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´╗┐Title: The Domestic Cat
Author: Stables, Gordon, 1840-1910
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Domestic Cat" ***

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The Domestic Cat
By Gordon Stables
Published by George Routledge and Sons, Ludgate, London.
This edition dated 1876.

The Domestic Cat, by Gordon Stables.





In the feline world you find no such diversity, of form, shape,
disposition, coat, size, etc, as you do in the canine.  Dogs differ from
each other in both the size and conformation of the skeleton, and in
many other important points, almost as much as if they belonged to
entirely different species.  Mark, for instance, how unlike the bulldog
is to the greyhound, or the Scotch toy-terrier to the English mastiff;
yet, from the toy-terrier upwards to the giant Saint Bernard, they are
all _dogs_, every one of them.  So is the jackal, so is the fox and the
wolf.  The domesticated dog himself, indeed, is the best judge as to
whether any given animal belongs to his own species or not.  I have
taken dogs to different zoological gardens, and have always found that
they were ready enough to hob-nob with either jackal or fox, if the
latter were only decently civil; but they will turn away with
indifference, or even abhorrence, from a wild goat or sloth.  But among
the various breeds of cats there exists no such characteristic
differences, so that in proposing a classification one almost hesitates
to use the word "breed" at all, and feels inclined to search about for
another and better term.  If I were not under a vow not to let my
imagination run riot in these papers, but to glide gently over the
surface of things, rather than be erudite, philosophical, theoretical,
or speculative, I should feel sorely tempted to pause here for a moment,
and ask myself the question--Why are there so many distinct breeds of
the domesticated dog, and, properly speaking, only one of the more
humble cat?  Did the former all spring from the same original stock, or
are certain breeds, such as the staghound, etc, more directly descended
from the wolf, the collie, Pomeranian, etc, from the fox after his kind,
and other breeds from animals now entirely extinct in the wild state?
And once upon a time, as the fairy books say, did flocks of wolves,
foxes, wild mastiffs, and all dogs run at large in these islands,
clubbing together in warlike and predatory bands, each after his kind,
much in the same way that the Scottish Highlanders used to do two or
three hundred years ago?  Animals of the dog kind are a step or two more
advanced in civilisation, if I may be allowed to use the term, than
cats; and hence, as intelligence can appreciate intelligence, and always
seeks to rise to a higher level, more breeds, or a larger number of
species, of the former than of the latter have forsaken their wild or
natural condition to attach themselves to man.  May not the time come,
in the distant future, when a larger variety of feline animals shall
become fashionable--when domesticated tigers, tame lions, or pet ocelots
shall be the rage?  If so, that will indeed be the millennium for cats.
Just fancy how becoming it would be to meet the lovely and accomplished
Miss De Dear out walking, and leading a beautiful leopard by a slight
silver chain, or Lady Bluesock in her phaeton, with a tame ocelot beside
John on the dickey!  A lady beside a lion on the lawn would, I think,
make a prettier picture than one by the side of a peacock, and a tame
Bengalese tiger would be a pet worthy to crouch at the foot of a throne.
To be sure, little bits of mistakes would occur at times; instead of
the pussy of the period bolting away with the canary, nothing less would
satisfy the pet than a nice fat baby, and then those extraordinary
people the cat--exterminators would be louder in their denunciations
than ever.

If we dissect the cat, we will find that the skeleton of one breed of
pussy would pretty nearly pass for that of another; we find the same
shape and almost the same size of bones, the same arrangement of teeth
as regards their levelness, the same number of teeth, and the same
formation of jawbone.  Clothe that skeleton with muscle, and still you
can hardly tell the breed of the cat, for scarcely will you be able to
find a muscle in the one breed that has not its fellow in all, a little
difference perhaps in the size and development of one or two, but even
this more the result of accident and use than a distinction real and

I feel as I write that I am sailing as close to a wind as possible; I am
luffing all my ship will steer; were I to keep her away a single point,
I should drift down into the pleasant gulf-stream of comparative
anatomy, and thence away and away to the broad enchanted ocean of
speculative theory.  And I confess, too, I wouldn't mind a cruise or two
in those latitudes, did space and time admit of it.

Now, I do not mean to say that there is really no difference in shape
and form between the different breeds of the domestic cat, but rather
that this difference is so minute, compared to that which exists between
dogs, that the term "breeds" seems almost a misnomer as applied to cats.
It is only when you see pussy arrayed in all the wealth and beauty of
her lovely fur, that you can see any real distinction between her and

In regard to the origin of the domestic cat, naturalists have squabbled
and fought for centuries, and the best thing possible, I think, is for
every man steadfastly to retain his own opinion, then everybody is sure
to be right.  For myself, I really cannot see that it would either
assist us in breeding better cats, or render us a bit more humane in our
treatment of the pretty animal, to be assured that she was first
imported into this country from Egypt or Persia in the year one thousand
and ever so much before Christ, or that the father of all the cats was a
Scottish wild cat, captured and tamed by some old Highland witch-wife a
thousand years before the birth of Noah's grandfather.  What matters it
to us whether the pussy that purrs on our footstool is a polecat bred
bigger, or a Polar bear bred less?  There she is,--

  The rank is but the guinea stamp,
  And a cat's a cat for a' that.

But, and if, you are fond of pedigree, why then surely it ought to
satisfy you to know that, ages before your ancestors or mine could
distinguish between a B and a bull, pussy was the pet of Persian
princes, the idol of many a harem, and the playmate of many a juvenile
Pharaoh.  What classification, then, are we to make of cats?  We search
around us in vain for something to guide us; then, fairly on our
beam-ends, are fain to clutch at the only solution to the question, and
fall back upon coat and colour, with some few distinctive points of
difference in the size and shape of the skull and body.  Colour or
markings, then, and quality of coat, are the guiding distinctions
between one breed of cat and another; and to these we add, as
auxiliaries, size and shape.

_Colour_.--Whether we understand it or not, there, undoubtedly, is
nothing in this world left to chance alone, and nothing, I sincerely
believe, is done by Nature without a purpose.  The same merciful
Providence that clothes the lambs with wool, the reason for which we can
understand, paints the rose's petal, the pigeon's breast, or even the
robin's egg, for reasons which to us are inscrutable, or only to be
vaguely guessed at.  We can tell the "why" and the "wherefore" of the
rainbow's evanescent hues, but who shall investigate the laws that
determine the fixed colours of the animal and vegetable creation?  Who
shall tell us why the grass is green, the rose is red, that bullfinch on
the pear-tree so glorious in his gaudiness, and that sparrow so humble
in his coat of brown?

If we ask the Christian philosopher, he will tell us that the colours in
animated nature are traced by the finger of God, who always paints the
coat or skin of an animal with that tint or hue, which shall tend most
to the propagation and preservation of its species.  That He clothes the
hare and rabbit in a suit of humble brown, that they may be less easily
seen by the eye of the sportsman, or their natural enemies, the polecat,
weasel, white owl, or golden-headed eagle.  That birds--who flit about
all summer in coats so gay and jackets so gaudy, that even a hawk may
mistake them for bouquets of flowers, and think them not worth eating--
as soon as the breeding season is over, and the leaves and flowers fade
and fall, are presented by nature with warmer but more homely suits of
apparel, more akin in colour to the leafless hedgerows, or the brown of
the rustling beech leaves, among which they seek shelter from the wintry
blast.  If you go farther you may fare worse.  No one in the world can
be a greater admirer than I of the genius of Tyndall, Darwin, or Huxley,
but I must confess they get a little, just a _leetle_, "mixed" at times;
and I doubt if Darwin himself, or any other sublunarian whatever,
understands his (Darwin's) theory of colour.  He says, for instance--I
can't use the exact words, but can give his meaning in my own--that the
wild rabbit or the hare was not painted by the finger of nature the
colour we find them with any pre-defined idea of protecting the animal
against its enemies; but that in the struggle for life that has been
going on for aeons, considering the conditions of its surroundings, it
was only the grey rabbit that had the power of continuing in existence,
escaping its enemies by aid of its dusky coat.  Darwin thinks, indeed,
that religionists put the cart before the horse, to use a homely phrase.
I confess that I myself prefer the good old theory of design--of a God
of design, and a prescient Providence.  I believe the testimony of the
rocks, I believe to a great extent in evolution--it is a grand theory,
and one which gives the Creator an immensity of glory--but I cannot let
any one rob me of the belief that beauty and colour are not all chance.

Yonder is a hornet, just alighted at the foot of the old oak-tree where
I am writing, so uncomfortably near my nose, indeed, that I can't help
wishing he had kept to his nest for another month; but the same April
sunshine that lured me out of doors lured the hornet, and there it
stands, all a-quiver with delight, on a budding acorn, looking every
moment as if it would part amidships.  "Do you think, Mrs Hornet, O
thou tigress of bees, if your lovely body, with its bars of gold, had
been of any other colour, that, under the peculiar conditions in which
your ancestors lived, you would, ages ago, have ceased to exist; that
ants, or other `crawling ferlies,' who detest the colour of turmeric,
would, in spite of your ugly sting, have devoured you and yours?"

Yonder, again, is a beautiful chaffinch; he was very glad to come to my
lawn-window every day, during all the weary winter, to beg a crumb of
bread.  He forgets that now, or thinks perhaps that I do not know him in
his spring suit of clothes, and golden-braided coat and vest.  But I do,
and I still believe--simple though the belief may be--that the same
Being, who gave life and motion to that little beetle which is now
making its way to the highest pinnacle of my note-book, as proud as a
boy with a new kite, to try its wings for the first time, tipped that
ungrateful finch's feathers with crimson, white, and gold, in order to
make him more attractive to his little dowdy thing of a wife, who has
been so busy all the morning building her nest on the silver birch, and
trying to find lichens to match the colour of the tree.  For Mrs Finch
is a nervous, timid little body, and had no thoughts of marrying at all,
and indeed would have preferred to remain single, and would have so
remained, had she not been a female; but being a female, how could she
resist that splendid uniform?

I go into the garden and bend me over the crocus beds--white crocuses,
orange crocuses, and blue, all smiling in the sunshine of spring.  Each
is a little family in itself, and they would like to know each other too
so very much, for they have ever so many love tales to breathe into each
other's ears.  But they are all fast by one end and cannot move.
Whatever shall they do, and what will become of the next generation of
crocuses?  I can hear them whispering their tales of love to the passing
wind, and so can you if you are a lover of Nature; but the wind is too
busy, or too light, or too something or another, and cannot pause to
listen.  So the little things are all in despair, when past comes a bee.
Now bees, and butterflies too, for all they have got so many eyes, are
rather short-sighted, but even a bee cannot help seeing that gorgeous
display of orange, white, and blue, so he pops at once into the bosom of
a blue crocus, and is made as welcome as the flowers in May.

"Oh! you dear old bee," says the crocus, "you're just come in time; have
something to eat first.  I have a nice little store of honey for you;
and then you shall bear a message to my lady-love--the pretty blue belle
crocus mind, not the white.  I wouldn't have a race of variegated
children for the world."

"All right," says the bee, and away he flies with the message of love to
the blue belle crocus, and thus the loves of the crocuses are cemented.
They tell the old, old story by proxy, because they can't do it as you
or I do, reader, eye to eye and lip to lip.

For colour has its uses, and nothing that exists was made in vain,
although some are selfish enough to believe that all the colour and
beauty they see around them, during a ramble in the country, was made
but to please the eye of man.

Colour I believe to be connected in some way with the mystery of heat
and life.  We all know that certain colours will dispel or retain heat;
black is more warm, for instance, than white.  There may be, then, a
_scale_ of colours as it were, each colour differing in the amount of
heat-retaining power; and, it may be that, having reference to this
scale, the colours on an animal's coat, are apportioned to it in the way
which shall best conduce to its health, comfort, and happiness.

The colour of any animal is an important consideration in determining
its breed, and this is especially the case among cats, where indeed it
forms the basis of our classification.  Colour is often the key to the
character of the cat--to its temper, whether savage or good-natured; to
its qualities as a good hunter or the reverse; and to its power of
endurance, its eyesight, and its hearing.

_Size_.--Cats of different breeds--I use the word for want of a better--
are generally of different sizes, and the skeleton is, as a rule, larger
in some breeds than in others.  The male ought to be larger than the

_Form_.--The difference in form is principally observable in the shape
and rotundity of skull, the length and shape of the nasal bones and jaw,
and the length of the tail and its form at the point.  The ears also
vary a good deal in length in the different breeds, and also in breadth,
and in "sit" or position.

_Pelage, or Coat_.--The coat is of two different kinds, the long and the
short.  In the former, the longer and softer and silkier the better, and
in the latter the length of the hairs, their closeness and glossiness,
are to be taken into consideration.  You can generally tell by one
glance at the animal's coat how she is fed, how she is treated and
housed, and the condition of her health.

Having got so far, we will next bring pussy herself on the stage, and
see how far these remarks apply to her, according to her breed and



In future chapters I will give the habits and characteristics of the
domestic cat in general, with some specialities of a few of the
different kinds in particular.  The "tricks and manners" of one cat,
however, will be found to correspond pretty closely with those of any

But before going farther on with this chapter, I wish to make a plea in
pussy's favour.  I myself have studied cat life, off and on, for twenty
years, so I suppose it will be admitted I am no mean authority on the
subject.  During that time I have come to certain conclusions, which in
some cases run contrary to the opinions generally conceived of those
animals--contrary, at any rate, to the belief current some years ago,
before pussy was thought worthy to hold a show of her own.  Towards this
ocean of contrary opinions I have been wafted, not by the wind of my own
sails alone, but aided and supported by many hundreds of anecdotes of
domestic pussy's daily life, habits, likes and dislikes.  These
anecdotes have been supplied to me from trustworthy people, in every
position of life--from the poverty-stricken old maid with her one feline
favourite; from the honest working-man with his fireside pet and
children's playmate; from farmers, solicitors, doctors, and parsons;
from baronets' ladies; and, in more than one instance, from the
daughters of peers of the realm, allied to royalty itself.  These
anecdotes have, in almost every case, been substantially authenticated,
and _always_ discarded wherever, in any case, they were open to doubt.

From these anecdotes and essays, and from my own experience as well, I
have arrived at the following conclusions--and be it remembered I speak
of cats that are properly fed and housed, and have been taught habits of
cleanliness when kittens:--

1.  That cats are extremely sagacious.

2 That cats are cleanly and regular in their habits.

3.  That cats are fond of children.

4.  That cats are excellent mothers, and will nurse the young of any
small animal on the loss of their own.

5.  That cats are fond of roaming abroad.

6.  That cats are brave to a fault.

7.  That cats are fond of other animals as playmates.

8.  That cats are easily taught tricks.

9.  That cats are excellent hunters.

10.  That cats are good fishers, and can swim on occasion.

11.  That cats are very tenacious of life.

12.  That cats are fond of home.

13.  That cats are _fonder far of master or mistress_.

14.  That cats are _not_, as a rule, _thieves, but the reverse_.

15.  That long-headed, sharp-nosed cats are the best mousers.

These are not texts, but deductions.

All that is known for certain of the origin of the domestic cat may be
expressed in three letters, _n i l_--nil.  And, after all, I cannot see
that it matters very much, for if the theory of Darwin be correct, that
everything living sprang originally from the primordial cell, then cats
or dogs, or human beings, we all had the same origin.  But, again,
according to Darwin, the cat is an older animal than man in the world's
history; and if this be so, how silly of us to bother our heads in
trying to find out who first domesticated the cat, when in all
probability _it was the cat who first domesticated man_.  But, avaunt!
all learned discourse on the subject; perish all discursive lore.  I
have studied the matter over and over again, and read about it in
languages dead and living, till my head ached, and my heart was sick;
and still, for the life of me, I cannot make out that there are any more
than two distinct _species_ of domestic cats in existence.  There are,
first, the European or Western cat, a short-haired animal; and secondly,
the Asiatic or Eastern cat--called also Persian or Angora, according to
the difference in the texture of the coat, it being exceedingly fine,
soft, and satiny in the Angora, and not so much so in the Persian--a
long-haired cat.  All the others, such as Assyrian, Abyssinian, the
Maltese, Russian, Chinese, Italian, French, Turkish, etc, are either
inter-breeds between the two, or lineal descendants of the one or the
other, altered and modified by climate and mode of life.

Taking everything into consideration, I am inclined to favour the belief
held by some, that our own fireside cat was first domesticated from our
mountain wild cat.  I mentioned, this to a naturalist of some repute,
with whom I was dining only a few days ago.

"_What_?" he roared, trying to get across the table, in order to jump
down my throat.  "_You_ ought to know, sir, that all animals increase,
instead of degenerating in size, by being transplanted to domestic

I didn't contradict the man in his own house; but indeed, reader, the
rule, if rule it be, admits of numerous exceptions.  It holds good among
horses, and I suppose cattle of all kinds; it even holds good if we go
down the scale of organic life, and apply it to fruit and flowers; but
how about the wilder animals, and our forest trees?  Take the latter
first--will the acorns of a garden-grown oak-tree, or the cone of a
transplanted Scotch pine, produce such noble specimens as those that
toss their giant arms in the forest or on mountain-side?  Or will a
menagerie-bred lion, or tiger--feed them ever so well--ever reach the
noble proportions of those animals who in freedom tread the African
desert, or roam uncaged and untrammelled through the jungles of Eastern
India?  What prison-born elephant ever reached in height to the
shoulders even, of the gigantic bulls that my poor friend, Gordon
Cumming, used to slay?  Do eagles, owls, the wilder hawks, alligators,
or anacondas do anything else but degenerate in captivity?  But even
admitting, hypothetically, that the rule would hold good as regards
cats, there isn't such a very great difference in the size of the tame
and wild cats after all.  I do not think that all the wild cats ever I
saw in Scotland or elsewhere, would average over ten to twelve pounds;
and twelve pounds is no unusual weight for our domestic cheety.  Another
thing that has often struck me is this: the farther north you go in
Scotland, and the nearer to the abode of the wild cat, the greater is
the resemblance in head and tail, and often in colour, of the tame cat
to the wild.  And, mark you, the domestic is often known to inter-breed
with the wild cat, and the offspring can be tamed and reared.  This is
considered nothing unusual in the Highlands.



The classification I propose of the domestic cat is an exceedingly
simple one, as I think all classifications ought to be; it will, I
trust, however, be found quite sufficient, and a useful one.  We have
first, then, the two and only two distinct breeds mentioned above,
viz:--One.  The European Cat.  Two.  The Asiatic.

From these two alone, if you get them of different colours, you can very
easily manufacture all the varieties and various-coloured pussies you
are ever likely to meet with, either on the show-benches or in domestic


ONE.  The European, short-haired, or Western Cats.

These I divide into five primary classes, namely--1, _Tortoiseshell_; 2,
_Black_; 3, _White_; 4, _Blue_ or _Slate-colour_; and 5, the _Tabbies_.

The _Tortoiseshell_ I subdivide into secondary classes: 1, the pure
Tortoiseshell; and 2, the Tortoiseshell-and-white.

The _Black_ is subdivided likewise into two: 1, pure Black; and 2,

The _White_ has no subdivision, but is bred in with any or all the other

The _Blue_ or _Slate-coloured Cat_.  These are subdivided into two: 1,
the pure Blue; and 2, the Blue-and-white.

_Tabbies_ are easily subdivided into four classes, viz:--1, the Red
Tabby; 2, the Brown Tabby; 3, the Blue or Silver Tabby; and 4, the
Spotted Tabby.

There are other odd cats, such as the Manx or tailless cat, the hybrid,
the six-clawed cat, and some curiously-coloured animals, which I shall
mention in another place, for these have no right to have classes of
their own, any more than black-and-tan Newfoundlands, or kittens with
eight legs.

I shall take these in their order of rotation.

1.  _The Tortoiseshell Cat_.--This might also be called the
black-and-tan cat.  If you want to get a good idea of the colour this
cat is, or ought to be, take a keek through a lady's tortoiseshell
back-hair comb.  That is about it; but you never see such perfection in
pussy's coat.

For many a long year it was almost universally believed that there never
was any such thing as a tortoiseshell male or Tom cat, or ever could be;
and many an anxious search has many an old maid had over her newly-born
litter of kits, to see if she would be fortunate enough to find the
much-to-be-desired anomaly.  For, bear in mind, a belief used to be
pretty current that 300 pounds--or was it 500 pounds?--would be paid
over some counter, by some fool or fools unknown, to anyone who should
be able to put the possibility of the existence of a tortoiseshell Tom
beyond dispute--by producing one.  I saw an advertisement the other day
in _The Live Stock Journal_, offering for sale a tortoiseshell Tom, at
the low price of 100 pounds!  I hope, if only for poor Tom's sake, that
somebody with more money than brains bought it--for the cat anyone paid
100 pounds for would, I should think, be certain of good milk and
generous treatment.

I knew a poor old woman in Skye, and this old woman's pussy was as
pussies love to be.  And lo! one night the old woman, in the silence of
night, dreamed a dream.  She thought that the cat came to her bedside,
and said to her, "Arise, mistress, come and see."  That she followed
pussy at once.  That pussy led her to the barn.  That there she found,
cuddled together in a heap upon an old sack, no less than five
tortoiseshell Toms.  She dreamt besides that she sold the lot for 1,000
pounds each, and bought a carriage and four, right off the reel, and set
up for a lady of fashion on the spot.  Anxiously did the old woman watch
for her cattie's accouchement, but much to her disappointment they all
had white about them.  Next time that pussy was in the same way, her
mistress had an old tortoiseshell comb nailed up above its bed.  Even
this didn't do, so--for by this time the ancient dame had tortoiseshell
Tom on the brain--she set out for Portree, a distance of fully sixteen
miles, where she managed to procure a live tortoise as a playmate for
her pet.  Pussy never took much to the tortoise; all she did was to sit
and watch it, and whenever it protruded its scaly head, the cat smacked
it in again.  This might have been the reason why her kittens had all
white about them the third time.  The old woman didn't despair, however;
she took to praying, and prayed in English, and prayed in Gaelic, and
she told me seriously that she never doubted but that her prayers would
one day be answered--_if_, she added, _it was for her good_.  I didn't
doubt it either, but Tom never came ashore as long as I was in the
island, neither was the old creature's snuff-box ever empty.

I have but little fancy for this breed myself.  They are usually
sour-tempered, unfriendly little things to all save those who own and
love them.  They are, moreover, not very prepossessing.  I speak of the
cat as _I_ have found it, and I doubt not there are many exceptions.

_Merits_.--They are excellent and patient mousers, and the _best_ of
hunters.  They are likewise good mothers.  They are as game as a bull
and terrier--in fact they seem to fear nothing on four legs; and when
they do take off the gloves to fight, I pity the animal they tackle, for
what the tortoiseshell lacks in weight, she makes up for amply in
courage.  They are very wise and sagacious, and faithful to the death to
those who own them.

_Points_.--1.  _Size_: You don't look for a very large cat of the pure
tortoiseshell breed, nor a very pretty one.  The larger the better to a
certain extent.  I have known a small-sized tortoiseshell cat follow the
rats even into their own burrows, again and again, until she had
exterminated them. 2.  _Head_: The head is small and rather bullety, the
ears moderately large and nicely cocked, and the eyes small, and the
darker the better. 3.  _Colour and markings_: The colour is as near
tortoiseshell as possible, and the markings must not only be deep and
pretty, but very distinct in the centre, although blending insensibly
where they meet, and artistically arranged.  You mustn't expect to find
the colour or markings very nicely arranged on the male tortoiseshell.
No white is allowed on this breed of cat.  Tortoiseshell Tom _is_
tortoiseshell Tom, and prefers to be judged alone and on his own merits;
for, as a rule, his right there is none to dispute. 4.  _Pelage_ or
_Coat_: Hair moderately short, but _very_ fine, glossy, and silken.
N.B.--Knock off from five to eight points for _cinder-holes_.  I now
give the points in a tabular form, with their full value.  Not,
remember, that as a rule I go in for judging by points; still, a table
of this sort has its value, as one can see just at a glance what is
looked for in each breed, and what isn't:--


Points of the Tortoiseshell Cat.

1.  Size, 5.

2.  Head, 10.

3.  Colour and markings, 25.

4.  Pelage, 10.

Total, 50.

The next pussy which demands a few passing remarks is _The
Tortoiseshell-and-white_.  This is often a very beautiful cat, more
especially when young, as, when old, they sometimes degenerate into very
lazy habits, especially if they have a large amount of white about them.
They are pretty, and they seem to know it, taking great delight in
keeping the white portions of their fur as pure as snow.  I knew a cat
something of this breed, who was nearly all white, excepting a beautiful
tortoiseshell patch on the upper part of one thigh.  She was
unexceptionably cleanly, and the frantic efforts she used to make to
wash off that spot of black-and-amber were ridiculous to behold.  She
would sit for hours admiring herself in the glass, and occasionally
dipping her paw in her saucer of milk, until she spied that unhappy
spot; to that she would at once devote a good half-hour, but finding no
appreciable difference in it, she would start away in high dudgeon,
swishing her tail about, like a lion in love.  That spot was the only
barrier to pussy's bliss.  _Moral_: There's no such thing as perfect
happiness here below--even to a cat.



Next on the list of classification comes the _Black Cat_, subdivided
into--1, the Pure Black; and 2, the Black-and-white.

1.  _The Pure Black_.--This is one of my pet breeds.  The pure black cat
is such a noble, gentlemanly fellow, and if well-bred and trained--and
he is capable of a very large amount of training--he is one of the best
and most useful cats you can have in the house.  There is no
namby-pambiness about black Tom, and no squeamishness either.  You can
take him or tire of him, just as you please; it is all one to Tom.
There is a certain independence about his every movement, and an
assumption of dignity, as he saunters about the house, gazes at the fire
of a winter's evening, or rolls himself in the sunniest spot of the
garden in summer, that are both amusing and delightful.  Black Tom will
give you a paw, but you may take it or leave it, just as suits you; and
if you annoy him too much, he will very quickly cast his gloves and make
you laugh with the wrong side of your mouth, as the saying is.  And it
is quite astonishing, too, what a beautiful deep and cleanly-cut wound--
I speak feelingly, as a surgeon--Tom can make on the fleshy portion of
your hand, or down the side of your nose.  For black Tom, and all the
race of black cats, seem to have made up their minds ages ago not to
stand any nonsense from man or beast.

But you mustn't run away with the idea that black Tom is a pugnacious
animal, or fond of fighting for fighting's sake.  No, Tom is never
aggressive; he stands a good deal before he is thoroughly roused, and,
to tell the truth, I have more than once seen a tortoiseshell thrash a
black cat double its size.  But if there is a lady cat in the play, the
affections of a queen to be gained, or if black Tom has made up his mind
to carry war into the heart of a rival's camp, doesn't he go at it with
a will!  If the other cat will not surrender, ten to one all you'll find
of that cat in the morning will be the front teeth, the wind of the
battle having blown all the fluff away, while, if you cast your eyes
upwards, you will see black Tom on the top of the wall making love to
his Dinah, and looking as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.

Black Tom is generally most exemplary in the matter of cleanliness,
personal or otherwise--there you have him again.  And he is as proud as
Lucifer--for he is quite well aware that he _is_ good-looking.  If he
were a man, he is just the sort of fellow who would wear a well-fitting
coat, spotless linen, and well-fitting boots and gloves, and part his
hair in the centre without appearing a cad.  You will seldom see
cinder-holes in black Tom; if you do, you may lay your honour on it,
that the animal is either aged and infirm, or suffering from some
internal disorder.

The black cat might be called the Newfoundland of the feline race, not
only in colour, but in nearly all his ways.  He is not the pussy,
however, I like to see made a pet of by children, for two reasons--
first, he is too fine an animal to be crumpled and spoiled; and,
secondly, because, like a good many Newfoundlands, he is liable at times
to be just a little uncertain in temper.

Although he cannot save life, like his prototype, still black Tom makes
the best of black guards, and will protect his master or mistress, or
their property.  One or two that I happen to think of now, keep a watch
on their master's wares just as a dog would.  One belonging to Mr
Taylor, of Cumministon, "clooked" a little boy in the very act of
stealing a piece of butter, and held him, growling fiercely the while,
until his master came.  The same cat would keep the packet of groceries
ordered by a customer, until the money was paid, and he was told it was
all right.  The cunning and wiliness of the black cat is sometimes
highly amusing.  I have known a cat of this breed feign death to escape
a thrashing; that is, when being thrashed, he pretended that one of the
blows had suddenly killed him, and would lie to all appearance stark and
stiff on the floor for several minutes; but if you watched him narrowly
you would presently see just a line of his cute brown eye, and as soon
as the coast was clear, Tom would come to life again, and be off like a

Black cats are sometimes thieves.  I know the reader would put it in
more forcible language, but don't you expect for a single moment that I
will say more against my pets than the exigencies of truth compel me to,
so there!  I say they are at times just a _leetle_ addicted to
appropriating what they have but small legal right to.  But there is
this to be said in their favour--when they are thieves _they are swells
at it_.  I have a black cat in my eye at this very moment, and if, my
_dear_ lady, you are at all fond of that sort of thing, it would, simply
do your heart good to watch that pussy stalking steak.  He is such an
honest-looking cat, you see, and from the easy way he sits in the
doorway opposite the butcher's, with his half-shut eyes and his dreamy
air, you would feel convinced that the house was his home, that all the
adjoining property belonged to him, and he had a vote in Parliament and
a seat on the municipal bench.  But bide a wee till Blocks turns round
to serve a customer, when pop! fuss!! honest Tom is round the corner
with a pound of beef in his mouth, before you could say "Muslin!"  Oh!
it's charming, I assure you, but rather rough on Blocks.

I must confess, too, that, at times, there is about a black Tom cat a
look which you can only designate as Satanical--Mephistophelean, then,
if you object to the other word--and I have no doubt it is this look of
devil-beauty in Tom which has often led him to be suspected of being
either an imp of darkness or possessed of one.  A witch, you know, is
generally supposed to have as a companion a familiar spirit in the shape
of a black cat.  Superstitions connected with the black cat are still
common in some parts of the country and among sailors.  We had a black
Tom in the _Penguin_ which led us many a pretty dance.  He was treated
as a fiend, poor fellow, and behaved as such; and the captain was as
much afraid of him as anybody else, and never failed to let go the
life-buoy and lower a boat when Tom missed his footing and fell
overboard, which the cat had a happy knack of doing periodically.  Tom
was missed, though, one morning, and seen again no more.  He had
doubtless fallen into the sea in the darkness of the middle watch.

This cat had a strange method of fishing, which is worthy of notice.
You are, I suppose, aware that flying fish are caught by exposing a
light on deck, which they always vault towards.  Black Tom's eyes had
the same effect.  He would sit on the bulwarks and glare into the sea
till a fish flew towards or over him, then he nabbed it nimbly.  Just
before we came to the Cape, for the last time in that commission, I
heard two blue-jackets conversing about this black Tom.

"Look, see!" one was saying, "I think he were a devil, nothin' more and
nothin' less; and I'll bet you five bob he were a devil."

"Done," said the other sailor.

Three days after, both men were "planked" for coming off drunk.  They
had been on shore drinking their bet beforehand.  Simple souls, they
both came to me after punishment, to get my decision as to who should
pay.  Their doctor, they thought, knew everything.  But very sadly were
they put out, when I told them the bet could never be satisfactorily
decided _in this world_.

"Ah! doctor," said one, waggishly, "it's a jolly good thing we drank the
bet beforehand."

Black Tom's queen is usually a very lively lady, and up to any amount of
fun and mischief.

_Merits_.--For house-hunting they are the _best_ cats you can have.
They are very beautiful and graceful; and, indeed, a well-bred,
well-trained black Tom is a veritable prince of the feline race.  The
finest cat of this sort I ever saw was at Glasgow Show, "Le Diable" to
name.  He _was_ a beauty.  What attitudes he did!  What grace in every
movement! and such a colour and coat and eye!  I forget now who owned
him, but I remember I gave him first prize after only one glance at the
others.  Black cats are not so easily seen at night, and their hearing
is extremely keen; so, likewise, is their eyesight.  As a rule, they
kill rats and mice more for sport than anything else, and are fonder of
tackling larger game.  In the field, however, their colour is against
them, and makes them a good mark for the keeper's gun.  I prefer seeing
black Tom in the parlour, or on a hosier's counter, or coiled up in a
draper's window.

_Points_.--1.  _Size_: You want them large--as large an possible, and
with great grace of motion. 2.  _Head_: The head is medium-sized, and
not too bullety; a sharp nose, however, is an abomination in a black
cat.  The ears must be rather longish, and shapely, and well-feathered
internally, and set _straight_ on. 3.  _Eyes_: A brown eye is best, next
best is hazel, which in turn is better than green, but green is better
than yellow. 4.  _Colour_: All black; not even a toe must be white, nor
_one hair of the whiskers_. 5.  _Pelage_: A beautiful, soft, though not
too fine, fur, and inclining rather to length than otherwise, and as
sheeny as a boatman beetle.

Points of the black cat.

Size, 15.

Head, 5.

Eyes, 5.

Colour, 15.

Pelage, 10.

Total, 50.



I have been asked to give a few hints as to the best and most useful
classification for show purposes, and may as well do so here.  For a
large show, the classes can hardly be better arranged than they are in
the Crystal Palace catalogue, or that of the Edinburgh or Glasgow Shows.
For smaller shows I beg to suggest the following:--

ONE.  Long-haired cats, any colour, male or female.

TWO.  Short-haired black and black-and-white, and white.

THREE.  Short-haired tabbies, any colour.

FOUR.  Short-haired tortoiseshell and tortoise-and-white.

FIVE.  Anomalous, as Manx, etc.

The first class would include Persian, Angora, and other long-haired
cats--black, white, tabby, or tortoiseshell.  The third class would
include all tabbies--brown, red, and grey or silver.  Class Four must
have tortoiseshell-and-white as well as tortoiseshell, or it will be a
small class, owing to the rarity of the pure tortoiseshell.  The last
class will give a place to Manx, six-toed cats, wild cats, and hybrids,
as well as any curious foreign pussy that may be forthcoming.  At all
shows you find a great many cats entered in the wrong class.  I think it
a pity that secretaries don't arrange these in their proper classes; it
is not right to exclude merit through mistake.  In judging, prizes
should be withheld where there is no competition; and where there is
want of merit in any one class, some of the prizes should be withdrawn
and added to any class of _extra_ merit.  We come now to the
_black-and-white cat_.

A good black-and-white cat is a very noble-looking animal.  If
well-trained and looked after, you can hardly have a nicer parlour pet.
He is affectionate in his disposition, and cleanly and gentlemanly, so
to speak, and makes himself quite an ornament to a well-furnished
drawing-room.  I must speak, however, of the demerits of my pets, as
well as of their good qualities, and feel constrained to say that I have
sometimes found black-and-white Tom a pussy who did not trouble himself
too much about his duties as house-cat; he much preferred the parlour to
the kitchen, a good bed to a hay-loft, and seemed to think that catching
mean little mice was far below his dignity.  If well treated black and
white cats are apt to turn a little indolent and lazy, and if improperly
fed and housed, they degenerate into the most wretched-looking specimens
of felinity you ever looked upon.  All the bad in their character comes
out, and their good qualities are forgotten.  Their coat gets dry, and
tear, and are cinder-holed; and, instead of the plump, round-faced,
clerical-looking cat which used to adorn your parlour window, you have a
thin, emaciated, long-nosed, pigeon-loft-hunting, flower-unscraping,
dirty, disreputable dunghill cat.  Of course, the same may, to a certain
extent, be said of most neglected cats, but the two breeds that show to
the least advantage, when ill-used, are the black-and-white and the
red-and-white, and more especially the former.

_Merits_.--I like these cats more for their appearance than anything
else.  When nicely marked they look reverend and respectable in the
extreme.  I consider them but very ordinary pussies in regard to
house-hunting.  A naval officer who cannot go to quarters without having
his hands encased in white kids, and a black-and-white cat, carry on
duty much on a par.  Neither do these cats make over good children's
pets, being at times a little selfish.  They are beautiful creatures,
nevertheless, and well worthy of a place at our parlour firesides.

_Points_.--1.  _Size_: As big as possible, but not leggy; reasonably
plump for the show-bench, but _very_ graceful in all their motions; with
stoutish short forelegs, and plenty of spring in the hindquarters.

2.  _Head_: The best black-and-white Toms have large, well-rounded
heads, with moderately long ears, and a well-pleased, self-contented
expression of face.  The whiskers are usually white, but black is not
objectionable.  The eyes are preferred green, and sparkling like
emeralds of the finest water.

3.  _Colour and markings_: The colour is black-and-white, with as much
of the former, and as little of the latter as you can find.  I like to
see the nose and cheeks vandyked with white, the chin black, white
fore-paws, white hind legs and belly, and a white chest.  This is all
that is needed for beauty's sake; but, at all events, the markings must
be even.

4.  _Pelage_: Fur should be longish (and I don't object to its being
ticked all over the back with longer white hairs), silky, and glossy.

Points of the Black-and-White Cat.

Size, 10.

Head, 5.

Colour and markings, 25.

Pelage, 10.

Total, 50.

The next cat on the boards is the white cat.

It is very remarkable--and most students of feline nature must have had
an opportunity of observing this--the great difference in the
temperament, constitution, and nature of cats, which colour alone,
apparently, has the power of truly indicating; and this is nowhere more
easily seen than in the peculiar characteristics of the pure black pussy
and the all-white one.  The black cat, on the one hand, is bold, and
free, and fierce; the white, far from brave, more fond of petting and
society, and as gentle as a little white mouse.  The black cat is full
of life and daring; the white of a much quieter and more loving
disposition.  The black cat stands but little "cuddling;" the white
would like to be always nursed.  It takes but little pains to teach a
black cat to be perfectly cleanly, but much more to train a pure white
one.  In constitution the black cat is much more hardy and lasting, the
white cat being often delicate, and longing apparently for a sunnier
clime.  A black cat is often afflicted with _kleptomania_, while a
properly-educated white puss is as honest as the day is long.

The senses of the black cat are nearly always in a state of perfection,
while the white is often deaf, and at times a little blind.  Again there
is nothing demoniacal about a white cat, as there often is about a black
one.  I remember, when a little boy at the grammar school of Aberdeen,
receiving a box from the country containing lots of good things, and
marked, "A Present from Muffle"--Muffle was a pet tabby of mine--and,
childlike, replying in verse, the last lines of the "poem" being--

  "And when at last Death's withering arms
      Shall throw his mantle thee around,
  May angel catties carry thee
      To the happy hunting-ground."

Well, a blue-eyed white pussy was my idea of an "angel cattie" then, and
it is not altered still.

It will be observed, however, that the colour of the kittens of the same
litter will often differ, and the question naturally comes to be asked,
Do I assert that the nature and temperament of cats in the same litter
will not coincide?  I do so aver most unhesitatingly; and the thing
is easily explained if you bear in mind that a litter of
differently-coloured kittens has had but _one_ mother, but _many_
fathers.  Although born from the same mother in one day, they stand in
the relation to each other of half-brothers and half-sisters.  Except
when the odds in colour is very distinct, as in black, white, or red,
the difference in constitution, etc, will not be so easily perceived,
but it is there, nevertheless.  _Colour follows the breed, and temper
and quality follow colour_.  This is the same all throughout nature, and
is often observed, though but little studied, by dog fanciers.  I have
only to remind pointer and setter men, how often hardiness and good
stamp cling to certain colours.  That "God tempers the wind to the shorn
lamb," I believe to be merely metaphor, but I am ready to go to death on
it that He paints the petals of the flower and the blossoms on the
fruit-tree, to the requirements of the tender seedlings.  What sort of
fruit would you grow in the dark, or under deeply-coloured glass shades?
Lest I be found guilty of digression, I shall say no more now on this

_Merits of the White Cat_.--A _pet_, gentle and loving above a cat of
any other colour, though at times dull, and cross, and wayward; "given,"
as a lady said, "to moods of melancholy."  Not a bad mouser either, when
"i' th' vein," and a good cat for a miller to have, not being easily
seen among sacks of flour.

_Points_.--1.  _Size_: Seldom a large cat. 2.  _Head_: Smallish, and as
nicely rounded as possible; ears not too long, and well-feathered
internally; eyes of "himmel-blue;" eyes ought to be both the same
colour--if not so, deduct five points. 3.  _Pelage_: Fine, soft, and
glossy; but a too long coat shows a cross with Angora. 4.  _Colour_:
White as driven snow, if intended for a show cat; if not, a very little
black wonderfully improves the constitution.

Points of the White Cat.

Size, 5.

Head and eyes, 15.

Colour, 25.

Pelage, 5.

Total, 50.



The Blue cat: just one word about this pretty creature before passing on
to the Tabbies.  Although she is called a blue cat, don't fancy for a
moment that ultramarine is anywhere near her colour, or himmel-blue, or
honest navy serge itself.  Her colour is a sad slate-colour; I cannot
get any nearer to it than that.

Apart from her somewhat sombre appearance, this cat makes a very nice
pet indeed; she is exceedingly gentle and winning, and I'm sure would do
anything rather than scratch a child.  But the less children have to do
with her the better, for all that: for this simple reason--she is a cat
of delicate constitution--all that ever I knew were so, at least, and I
daresay my readers can corroborate what I say.

_Merits_.--Their extreme gentleness is one merit, and their tractability
and teachability are others.  A pure blue cat is very rare, and they are
greatly prized by their owners.

_Points_.--1.  _Size_: They are rather under-sized, never being much
larger than the pure tortoiseshell.

2.  _Head_: The head is small and round, and the eyes are prettiest when
of a beautiful orange-yellow.  The nose should be tipped with black.

3.  _Pelage_: Moderately long and delightfully soft and sheeny.

4.  _Colour_: This is the principal point.  It is, as I said, a nice
cool, slate-grey, and, like the black cat, our blue pussy must be all
one colour, without a hair of white anywhere.  _Even her whiskers_ must
be of the same colour as her fur.

Points of the Blue Cat.

Size, 5.

Head, 5.

Pelage, 10.

Colour, 30.

Total, 50.

We now come to the Tabbies--the real old English cats--the playmates of
our infant days and sharers of our oatmeal porridge.  They are the
commonest of all cats, and justly so, too, for there is hardly anything
they don't know, and nothing they can't be taught, bar conic sections,
perhaps, the _Pons Asinorum_, and a few trifles of that ilk.  You will
find a tabby cat wherever you go, and you will find her equally at home
wherever she is--whether sitting on the footstool on the cosy hearthrug,
singing duets with the tea-kettle; catching birds and rabbits in the
woods, or mice in the barn; conducting a concert for your especial
benefit on the neighbouring tiles at twelve o'clock at night; examining
the flower seeds you lately sowed in the garden to see if they are
budding yet; or locked, quite by accident, into the pigeon loft.

The first cat of the Tabby kind which claims our attention is the Red or
Sandy Tabby.

This is a very beautiful animal, and quite worthy of a place in the best
drawing-rooms in the land.  Although they do not grow to the immense
size of some of our brown tabbies, still they are better hunters, much
fiercer, and of a hardier constitution.  They much prefer out-of-door
sport, and will attack and slay even the polecat and weasel; and
instances have been known of their giving battle to the wild cat

_Merits_.--They are the prettiest of pets, and the honestest of all cat
kind.  They are such good ratters that neither mice nor rats will
frequent the house they inhabit.

_Points_.--1.  _Size_: They ought to be as large as possible, and not
clumsy; they are generally neater cats all over than the Brown Tabbies.

2.  _Head_: The head should be large and broad, with rather shortish
ears, well placed, and the face ought to beam with intelligence and good
nature.  The eyes should be deep set, and a nice yellow colour.

3.  _Pelage_: The coat is generally short in nearly all the Tabbies, but
ought to be sleek and glossy.

4.  _Colour and markings_: The colour is a light sandy red, barred and
striped with red of a darker, deeper hue.  No white.  The stripes or
markings ought to be the same on both sides, and even the legs ought to
be marked with cross bars, and one beautiful swirl, at least, across the
chest.  This is called the Lord Mayor's Chain, and when the cat has two,
give him extra points.

Points of the Red Tabby.

Size, 10.

Head, 5.

Colour and markings, 30.

Pelage, 5.

Total, 50.

Next comes the Brown Tabby.

This is the largest of all breeds of cats, fourteen, seventeen, and even
twenty pounds a common weight.  They are also, when well marked and
striped, exceedingly beautiful.  Of all cats they are the best adapted
for house-hunting, being less addicted to wandering than some breeds.

_Merits_.--Their hunting proclivities.  Their fondness for children is
sometimes quite remarkable.  I have known many instances of Brown Tom
Tabbies, so fierce that scarce any one dare lay a finger on them
unscathed, but a little child of four years of age could do anything
with them, lug them about anyhow, and even carry them head down, over
its shoulder by the tail.  They are, moreover, nice, loving,
kind-hearted pets, and exceedingly fond of their master and mistress.
They are the cats of all cats to make a family circle look cosy and
complete around the fire of a winter's night.

_Points_.--1.  _Size_: It will be observed below that I give fifteen
points for size.  The bigger your Brown Tom Tabby is the better he
looks, _if_ the one-half of it isn't fat, for if so he won't be
graceful, and that is one essential point.  I can find a Tabby at this
moment who weighs over twenty pounds, and who will spring from the
floor, without scrambling, mind you, clean on to the top of the parlour
door, and that is little short of seven feet.  I like to see a tabby
with a graceful carriage then, and shortish in forelegs, with
beautifully well-fitted and rounded limbs, and with a tiger-like walk
and mien.

2.  _Head_: Very large and broad and round, ears short, eyes dark, and
muzzle broad, not lean, and thin and long.  This latter certainly gives
him more killing power, but it brings him too near the wild cat.  I
don't care how savagely he behaves in a cage at a show, for well I know
he is quite a different animal at his own fireside, asleep on the rug in
little Alice's arms, or purring in bed on old Maid Mudge's virgin bosom.

3.  _Colour_: A nice dark brown or grey ground, and the workings as
deeply black as possible.  No white.

4.  _Markings_: Like a Bengal tiger, and even prettier.  The tail and
legs likewise barred.  The head striped perpendicularly down the brow,
and the marks going swirling round the cheeks.  Nose black or brown, and
the eyes as dark as possible, and full of fire.

5.  _Pelage_: Short and glossy.

Points of the Brown Tabby.

Size, 15.

Head, 5.

Colour, 10.

Markings, 15.

Pelage, 5.

Total, 50.

Lastly, we have the Silver Tabby and the Spotted Tabby, and in almost
all points these may be judged alike.

The Silver Tabby is a sweetly pretty cat.  Perhaps the prettiest of all
pussies.  They are a size smaller than even the best Red Tabbies, and
are infinitely more graceful, and quicker in all their motions.  They
are proud, elegant, aristocratic cats, fond to love and quick to resent
an injury.

_Merits_.--Their special merit is their exceeding beauty.  They are
somewhat rare, however.  Here is a bit of advice to any one who would
like to have four really pretty cats about the house, each to show the
others to advantage.  Get a pure white kitten, a pure black one, a red
tabby, and a silver ditto.  Take great care in the training of them, be
careful in feeding and housing them, and you will have your reward.

The Spotted Tabby is also very pretty.  He ought to be a good, sizeable
animal, with broad head, short ears, and a loving face; ground colour a
dark grey, one dark stripe, and down the spine, and diverging from this
stripes of black broken up into spots.

_Points_.--The Silver Tabby ought to be--

1.  _In size_, less than or about the size of the Red Tabby, and very
quick and graceful.

2.  _Head_: Large and shapely, but not so blunt as the Brown Tabby's;
ears short and eyes light.

3.  _Colour and markings_: Of a deep Aberdeen granite, grey in the
ground-work, and the markings very dark and beautifully arranged.  Don't
forget the Mayor's Chains.

4.  _Pelage_: Longish, if anything; but not so long as to make the judge
suspect crossing with the Persian.

Points of Silver and Spotted Tabbies.

Size, 10.

Head, 5.

Colour and markings, 30.

Pelage, 5.

Total, 50.

There are one or two fancy cats I have not mentioned, as the
Red-and-white, etc; but I believe I have said enough to make anyone,
with a little study and attention, a good judge of the points and
qualities of the different breeds of the English domestic cat.



When I was a little boy at school, floundering through Herodotus, and
getting double doses of fum-fum daily for my Anabasis--for my old
teacher, when he couldn't get enough Greek into one end of me, took
jolly good care to put it in at the other--there was no man I had
greater respect for than Alexander the Great, owing to his having done
that Gordian knot business so neatly.  I practised afterwards on the
dominie's tawse (i.e., the fum-fum strap); I tied a splendid knot on it,
and then cut it through with a jack-knife; but, woe's me! the plaguy
dominie caught me in the very act, and--and I had to take my meals
standing for a week.

But ever since then I have always been a don at knots; and I give myself
no small credit, whether you do or not, reader, for the dexterous manner
in which I have polished off the cat-classification knot.  There it lay
before me, interminable, intricate, incensing; and bother the end could
I see to it at all at all.  "Draw the sword of Scotland."  Swish!  There
it lies, the short-haired European pussies on the one hand, and the
Asiatic or long-haired on the other.

Among these latter you will find exactly the same colours, and the same
variety of markings, as among the European cats proper.  We give their
points in a general way.

1.  _Size_: The blue cats and the pure white are usually of the smallest
dimensions; next comes the black, and lastly the tabbies.  Some of these
latter grow to immense sizes, and are animals of a beauty which is at
times magnificent.  The cat that belonged to Troppman, the distinguished
French murderer, and now, or lately, possessed by Mr Hincks, of
Birmingham, is worth going a day's journey to behold.  Yet, although
very large, they are very graceful, too, and can spring enormous
distances.  Fierce enough, too, they can be when there is any occasion,
especially to strangers or dogs.

2.  _Head_: The heads of the white, blue, and black ought to be small,
round, and sweet, the expression of the countenance being singularly
kind and loving.  The heads of the tabbies ought to be broad and large,
and not snouty.  The whiskers of both ought to be very long, and of a
colour to match the general tone.  The ears have this peculiarity--they
are slightly bent downwards and forwards, which gives rather a pensive
character to their beauty.  They are, moreover, graced by the _aural
tuft_.  The eyes must also match; and this is what I like to see--a blue
eye in a white Persian, a hazel in a black, and a lovely sea-green in a

3.  The _Pelage_: The pelage is long (the longer the better), especially
around the neck and a-down the sides; and a good brush, gracefully
swirled and carried, is an essential point of beauty.  The fur ought to
be as silken as possible; this shows that the cat is not only well-bred,
but well-fed and taken care of.

4.  _Markings_: They ought to be as distinct as possible, as pretty as
possible, and evenly laid on with reference to the two sides.

5.  _Colour_: All white in the pure white, all black in the black, and
so on with the other distinct colours; and for the tabbies the same
rules hold good as those given for short-haired tabbies.

_General rules for judging Asiatic Cats_.--First scan your cats,
remembering the difference in size you are to expect in tabbies from the
others.  Next see to the length and texture of the pelage--its
glossiness, and its freedom from cinder-holes, or the reverse.  Then
note the colour, and the evenness or unevenness of the markings.  The
head most be carefully noted, as to its size and shape, the colour of
the eyes and nose, ditto the whiskers; mark, too, the _lay_ of the ear,
and its _aural tuft_.  In the tabbies the _Mayor's Chain_ should swirl
around the chest.  Lastly, take a glance at the expression of face.

_Merits of the Asiatic Cats_.--I think every cat-fancier will bear me
out in saying that, although more delicate in constitution than our
European short-hairs, and hardly so keen at mousing, ratting, or so
fierce in fighting larger game, there can be no doubt of it they make
far nicer pets.  They are extremely affectionate and loving in their
dispositions, and so fond of other animals, such as dogs, pet rabbits,
guinea-pigs, etc.  Their love for a kind master or mistress only ends
with life itself.  Then they are so beautiful and so cleanly, and, if
kept in a clean room, take such care of their lovely pelage, that I only
wonder there are not more of them bred than there are.  They are a
little more expensive at first.  You can seldom pick up a good kitten at
a show under one pound sterling--but if you do succeed in getting one or
two nice ones, I am quite certain you will never have to repent it, if
you only do them ordinary justice.

It will be well to end this chapter here; but before doing so, I beg to
make one or two remarks, which I feel sure will interest secretaries of
coming cat-shows.

1.  In all shows give the cats nice roomy pens, whether of wood or zinc.

2.  Attend well to the ventilation, and more especially to disinfection.

3.  Attend to the feeding, and, at a more than one-day show, cats ought
to have _water_ as well as milk.  I think boiled lights, cut into small
pieces, with a very small portion of bullock's liver and bread soaked,
is the best food; but I have tried Spratt's Patent Cat Food with a great
number of cats, both of my own and those of friends, and have nearly
always found it agree; and at a cat-show it would, I believe, be both
handy and cleanly.

4.  On no account let the pussies lie on the bare wood or zinc, but
provide each with a cushion of some sort, and have a small box filled
with earth or sand, in each pen.  _Sawdust in a cat's cage is an
abomination_.  It soils the fur, and gets into the food-dish, and
renders pussy simply miserable.



"Throw physic to the dogs," said the immortal William.  That was a good
many years ago, and dogs then were of very little value, and little used
either to physic or good treatment; but nowadays we have found out that
the possession of even a cat, entails upon us the duty and
responsibility of seeing she is well cared for while in health, and
properly treated in sickness.  I recommended small doses of quinine and
steel to an unwell pussy the other day.

"Ma conscience!" cried her owner; "gie medicine to a cat!  Wha ever
heard o' the like?"

I'm sorry that woman was Scotch, but glad to say I reasoned even her
round, and her cat is now as sleek and lively as the day is long.

Most, if not all the diseases which feline flesh is heir to, are brought
on by bad feeding, starvation, or exposure to the weather, especially
the cruel custom many people have of leaving their poor cats out all
night, to seek for food and shelter for themselves.  These are the cats
who make night hideous with their howling, who tear up beautiful
flowerbeds, rob pigeon-lofts, murder valuable rabbits, and, in a general
way, do all they can to bring into disrepute the whole feline race.  I
declare to you honestly, there is as much difference between one of
these night-prowlers and a well-cared-for cat, as there is between one
of the lean and mangy curs who do scavengers' duty in Cairo, and a
champion Scottish Collie.

Some men will tell you that it is unmanly to love or care for a cat;
just as if it _could_ be unmanly to love anything that God made and
gifted with sagacity, wisdom, and undying love for all the human race!
But I can point you out scores of men who are good sportsmen, fearless
huntsmen, and fond of every manly sport--ay, and men, too, who are at
home on the stormiest ocean, and never pale when fired upon in anger--
who can both pride and prize a favourite cat.  At Exeter, not long
since, out of thirty-nine owners of cats, all were men except nine, and
of these nine seven were married, and the two others were young ladies,
while the owner of the first-prize cat _was a gallant soldier_.  So much
for the notion that only old maids care for cats.

Before going on to describe the diseases which afflict pussydom, we must
give a few general instructions regarding her treatment while well.

And first, as to her food.  Pussy will catch a mouse, and after playing
with it for half an hour in a way which is very cruel, but no doubt
makes it very tender, she will generally kill and eat it; but it by no
means follows that mice are the cat's natural food.  The majority of
cats catch mice more for the love of sport than anything else.  Nothing,
therefore, is more cruel than to starve poor pussy, with the erroneous
idea that it will make her a good mouser; it is just the reverse.  My
Phiz bids me say that mice-catching is long, weary, anxious work at the
best, and she is quite certain she would die if compelled to make a
living at it.

Feed your pussy well, then, if you would have her be faithful and
honest, and keep your house clear of mice and rats.

I have lived a good deal in apartments in my time, and I have always
avoided places where there was a lean and hungry-looking cat.  It is a
sure sign of irregularity and bad housekeeping.

Twice a day is often enough, but not too often, to feed your cat, and it
is better to let her have her allowance put down to her at once, instead
of feeding her with tid-bits.  Nothing can be better for pussy's
breakfast than oatmeal porridge and sweet milk.  _Entre nous_, reader,
nothing could be better for your own breakfast.  Oatmeal is the food of
both mind and matter, the food of the hero and the poet; it was the food
of Wallace, Bruce, and Walter Scott, and has been the food of brave men
and good since their day.

  "Oh! were I able to rehearse
  Scotch oatmeal's praise in proper verse,
  I'd blaw it oot as loud and fierce,
          As piper's drones could blaw, man."

But I cannot wonder for a single moment at this favourite Scottish food
being in disrepute in England, because hardly anyone knows how to make
it.  Our cook at sea once undertook to supply our mess with a daily
matutinal meal of porridge, and of oatcakes too.  He was sure he could
make them, because his "father had once lived in Scotland."
Nevertheless, I gave him some additional information, and we, the
Scottish officers, of whom there were two or three besides myself, were
in high glee, and took an extra turn on deck the first morning, to give
us a good appetite for the great coming double event.  Then down we
bolted to our porridge.  Porridge! save the name, such a slimy, thin,
disgusting mess you never saw!  Well might our chief engineer call out:

"Tak' it awa', steward, tak' it awa'; it would scunner (sicken) the
de'il himsel'!"

"But, hurrah!"  I cried, "there's the oatcakes to come.  Steward, where
are the oatcakes?"

The steward lifted the cover from the dish on which was wont to repose
our delicious "'spatch cock," or savoury curry, and there, lo and
behold! half-a-dozen things of the shape and thickness of a ship's
biscuit, black, and wet, and steaming, and we were supposed to eat them
_with a knife and fork_!  Meanwhile the ham and eggs were fast
disappearing among the Englishmen at the other end of the table, and we
poor Scots had to go without our breakfast, and get laughed at into the

But here, now, I'll tell you what I'll do for you, as Cheap Jack says--
I'll give you a receipt by which you shall live a hundred years, and
begin your second century a deal stronger than you began your first.
Buy your meal from the meal-shop--no, not the chemist, my dear--taste it
to make sure it has no "nip;" see, also, that it is fresh, and not
ground before Culloden, and buy it neither too fine nor too round, but
just a _happy medium_.  Having thus caught your hare, so to speak, go
home with it, and put a saucepan on a clear fire, with a pint of
beautiful spring-water, into which throw a teaspoonful, or more, of
salt, and a dessert spoonful of oatmeal.  This is essential.  Then sit
down and read till the water boils.  Now take your "spurckle" or
"whurtle" in your right hand--I don't know the English of "spurckle" or
"whurtle," but it is a round piece of wood, rather thicker than your
thumb and not so long as your arm, and you never see it silver-mounted--
and commence operations.  You stir in the meal very gradually, to
prevent its getting knotted, and you occasionally pause to let it boil a
moment, and you continue this until the porridge is quite thick, and the
bubbles rise into small mountains ere they escape, with a sound between
a "whitch" and a "whirr," which is in itself a pleasure to listen to.
And now it is ready, and you have only to pour it into a large
soup-plate, sprinkle a little dry oatmeal over the top of it, and set it
aside until reasonably cold.  You eat it with a spoon--not a fork--and
with nice sweet milk.  "A dish fit for a king," you say; "A dish fit for
the gods!"  I resound.  Now, having told you all this, I feel I have
well deserved of my country; and I'm not above accepting--a hamper at
any time.

Bread-and-milk, soaked, is the next best thing for pussy; and at dinner
you must let her have a wee bit of meat.  Lights, boiled and cut in
pieces, are best, but horseflesh isn't bad; but you mustn't give her too
much of either, or you will induce diarrhoea.  Give her fish,
occasionally, as a treat.  If pussy is a show cat, a little morsel of
butter, given every day, after dinner, will make her dress her jacket
with surprising regularity.

Now, as to what she drinks, a well-bred cat is always particular, and at
times even fastidious; but two things they must have--water and milk.
They will often prefer the former to the latter.  _But do keep their
dishes clean_.  Disease is often brought on from neglect of this
precaution.  Cats will drink tea or beer, and I have seen a Tom get as
drunk as a duke on oatmeal and whisky.  An old lady, an acquaintance of
mine, has a fine red-and-white Tom, and whenever he is ailing she gives
him "just a leetle drop o' brandy, sir."  Tom, I think, must have had
two little drops o' brandy yesterday, when he rode my fox-terrier,
Princie, all round the paddock.  Those naughty drops o' brandy!

Just one word about housing.  There is no more objectionable practice
than that of turning your cat out of doors at night, and none more
certain to engender disease and spoil your pussy's morals.  If you have
taken the least pains to train your cat to habits of cleanliness, she
will never misbehave herself.  Keep her in at night, then, and you'll
have her in health; keep her in if you want to run no risk of getting
her poisoned; keep her in, and the neighbours will bless you.  Don't
lock her into a room, though, unless she has an attic to herself.  Let
her have the run of the house from basement to roof.  Give pussy a bed
to lie on, or let her find one for herself, which she has a happy knack
of doing, as I daresay more than one of my readers can testify.  My
pretty Phiz needn't have kittened in my cocked hat, nevertheless.

So much, then, for the prevention of disease.  We will now come to
diseases themselves.  But just let me impress upon your mind, reader,
this fact--that attention to your pussy's housing, drink, and the
cleanliness and regularity of her diet, will almost certainly prevent
her from getting sick.



Before describing the management and treatment of feline ailments, I may
as well mention that there are three different plans usually adopted for
giving a cat medicine.  Pussy must first and foremost be caught--not
always an easy job, as the little creature is fond of hiding away when
ill.  Take her on your knee, and, as you gently soothe her, envelope
her, all save the head, in a woollen shawl, and then place her in some
one else's arms to hold.  Now, if it is a pill or small bolus it must be
dipped in oil, and placed well down behind the tongue, and towards the
roof of the mouth; if it is a powder, it may simply be placed on the
tongue; but the better plan is to mix it first with a little treacle or
glycerine; thirdly, if it is a fluid, the mouth must be held well open,
and the medicine poured down the throat out of a small phial, but only a
few drops at a time.

If your cat is suffering from any severe illness, such as bronchitis,
and you value her, set aside a garret or lumber-room for her
accommodation, for quiet is essential to her recovery.  Arrange her bed
as common sense tells you will best suit her comfort; don't forget to
let her have plenty of clean water to drink, and a large box of garden
mould in the far corner of the room.  There is only one other little
matter, which must not be overlooked--and, with this, pussy's little
hospital is complete--Grass.

_Grass_.--This is the natural medicine of both cat and dog.  In large
doses, it acts as an emetic; in smaller, as a purgative; its mode of
action being similar in both cases, namely, mechanical irritation of the
muscular and mucous coats of the alimentary canal; this causing
spasmodic contraction of the stomach, or increasing the peristaltic
motions of bowel.  Grass also possesses valuable antiscorbutic
properties, and the cat, either in sickness or health, should never want
a supply of it.

If pussy has been out all night at a feline entertainment on the tiles,
and the excitement has produced constipation, her remedy is grass.  If
she has made too free in the aviary, and the feathers of the Norwich
cock lie unpleasantly on her stomach, grass is her cure; or if she, at
any time, feels hot or feverish, out into the garden she goes, and a
little grass, taken at intervals, soon makes her feel as fresh as the

Don't let your cat want grass, then; if you live in a town, and she has
some difficulty in getting it, either procure it for her yourself, or,
what is better, get a boxful of earth, and sow it, and call it pussy's
garden.  Now for pussy's ailments.

_Mange_.--All skin diseases in the cat, whether pustular, papular, or
squamous, may be, for convenience' sake, called _mange_.  Cats are very
subject to skin diseases, especially long-haired ones, and those who
have been the subjects of bad or careless treatment; for they are always
brought about by poverty of the blood, from under-feeding, or surfeit
from over-eating on dainties.  Now I must warn the cat-fancier that
there is no _specific_ for the cure of mange in the cat, and that the
cure will take weeks, and at times even months; he must therefore make
up his mind either to destroy the cat at once, or set about curing her
in earnest.  Attend, in the first place, to her diet.  It must be
nourishing, but not heating; plenty of good milk, and no meat, unless
she be very thin, when raw meat in small quantities may be given twice a
day.  Dress the skin with carbolic oil, washing her carefully next day;
then try equal parts of sulphur-ointment and green iodide of mercury
ointment, mixed with an equal bulk of lard.  Give her arsenic
internally--one drop of the _Liquor arsenicalis_ twice a day, in milk,
for a week, then thrice a day for another week, when you must omit it
for a day or two, and then begin again.  At the same time give her, once
or twice a week, a little sulphur.  Placing brimstone-roll in a cat's
drinking-water is all a mistake, and does no good at all.  Sometimes the
disease will only yield to a course of iodide of potash.  Give her
half-grain or whole-grain doses, made into little boluses with
breadcrumbs--which any chemist can make for you--twice a day.

_Ulcers_.--Cats are liable to a variety of these, but they can best and
most conveniently be described as of two sorts--_constitutional_ and
_accidental_.  The first are the most difficult to cure, and are usually
found on the toes or feet.  Confine the cat to the house for a term; any
simple ointment, such as that of zinc, will do for a dressing, as it
will not hurt her if she licks it.  Put her on a course of arsenic, as
recommended above; give her, once a week, one grain of calomel, or two
or three grains of grey powder and a little sulphur; and, if the sores
appear sluggish, touch them once a day with blue-stone or nitrate of
silver.  Feed her well and regularly.

_Accidental ulcers_ are generally the result of scratches and wounds
received in the hunting-field, or during some slight difference of
opinion with the pussy over the way.  They require no internal
treatment.  If they look angry, bathe in warm water, or milk and water,
and use, occasionally, a little lotion of sulphate of zinc--ten grains
to four ounces of water, to which add one drachm of tincture of
lavender.  If the sores are sluggish, and indisposed to heal kindly,
truss the cat in the shawl, and cauterise with nitrate of silver;
afterwards dress with the mildest mercurial ointment.

_Inflammation of the eyes_ is generally the result of injury or cold
caught from exposure.  It may be confined to one eye, or may attack
both.  In either case the treatment is the same.  Begin by the use of a
purgative--say two or three grains of compound jalap-powder mixed in
glycerine, and given in the morning; give nothing but bread-and-milk to
eat, and let the cat have a little sulphur mixed with butter or lard
every second day.  The external treatment consists in bathing frequently
with warm water or weak green tea, and the following lotion, may
afterwards be used with advantage: two grains of sulphate of zinc to an
ounce of water, or one grain of nitrate of silver to the same quantity
of _aqua pura_.

_Simple Maladies_.--If you are fond of your cat you will naturally
easily know when she is getting out of sorts or going to be ill.  When
you observe, then, from her appearing dull and apathetic, refusing her
food, taking to dark corners, or sleeping all day, without attempting to
go out of doors; and, especially if her coat is dry; catch her at once,
and give her an emetic.  Try a little salt and water first, and, if that
will not act, two grains of sulphate of zinc will, given in luke-warm
water.  Afterwards administer as much castor-oil as you would give to a
baby, or two or three grains of grey powder.  Such treatment, taken in
time, will often have the effect of cutting short a serious illness.

_Operations_.--Never hesitate to open an abscess if you think, or
rather, if you are about half sure, there is matter in it.  Afterwards
foment with warm water.  Poultices are unhandy.  If the cat's leg has
been severely lacerated and broken in a trap, and there seems little
likelihood of its being able to heal, cut it off.  Do it quietly,
gently, and firmly; the ragged edge of the bone may be sawn off with a
table-knife made into a saw with a file.  (I cut a man's finger off the
other day with the same instrument.  About a fortnight after, the
commander, sitting at luncheon, made the innocent remark: "This knife is
rather blunt, steward.  I'm hanged!" he roared, immediately after, as he
dashed the knife through the open port, "I'm hanged if it isn't the
doctor's saw!")

Be sure to leave enough flesh to form a flap to cover the bone; stop the
bleeding with the actual cautery, then sew up and dress the wound in
sticking plaster; only leave room for the egress of matter.  Painful
operations of this sort are always better performed under chloroform.

Lay the cat on her side (rolled in the shawl) on some one else's knee,
pour a little chloroform into a handkerchief, and hold it _near, not on_
pussy's nose, or you will smother her.  As soon as one portion of the
chloroform gets evaporated supply its place with more; in from five to
ten minutes pussy will be in the land of nod.

_Consumption_.--Consumption in the cat is curable, because it is not
necessarily disease of the lungs.  The term is used to denote all sorts
of wasting disease in which pussy falls away in flesh, in coat, and in
general health.  The treatment must be careful--regulation of the diet
and attention to her housing, an occasional mild purgative and dose of
sulphur-butter.  You may give her raw meat steeped in wine if she will
take it; but remember your great sheet-anchor in the care of all these
cases is _cod-liver oil_, a dessert spoonful every day, or even more.
And you may supplement the treatment most advantageously by giving,
twice a day, the sixth of a grain of quinine.

One word of warning to cat-fanciers before I close this chapter.  _Never
ask a veterinary surgeon about your cat_.  Their knowledge of canine
ailments is vastly behind the times; their knowledge of cat diseases is
simply and literally _carte blanche_.  If you want your pussy killed or
tormented to death, _go to a chemist_.  The chemists in this country,
through their ignorance, and impudent assumption of medical knowledge,
slay their thousands annually.  Their ignorant patients, however, go
with their eyes open, and place themselves in chemists' hands.  Well, as
a paternal government refuses to protect the people, let the chemists go
ahead and poison away; but, if warning of mine will be heard and heeded,
they shall not poison our pussies too.



Probably one of the commonest and most distressing of complaints in the
cat is _diarrhoea_; and what makes it all the more distressing, is the
fact that, instead of receiving sympathy and good treatment in her
distress, she is often harshly treated, kicked about, and thrust out of

Diarrhoea is usually brought about by want of regular feeding, by
improper food, and exposure to wet and cold.  Different sorts of food
will also induce it--such as rancid horseflesh, sour milk, an
over-allowance of fat or liver.  If taken at once, the treatment is
generally very successful; if let go on too long, the cat will rapidly
lose flesh; and the advent of dysentery will make it a charity to put
her out of the way.

Give her at first a small teaspoonful of castor-oil, to which add two
drops of solution of muriate of morphia.  This will often stop it, and
remove all offending matter from the intestines.  If there is no
improvement, repeat the dose on the second morning, and give small doses
of common chalk mixture three times a day, with two drops of laudanum
divided between the three doses.  Let her have nothing but bread and
milk to eat, or a little corn-flour, if she will take it; if not, give
her fish--she won't refuse that.

A few drops of solution of lime added to her milk will do good.

If she be very much reduced in weight, and has no appetite, try two
grains of quinine made into twelve pills with breadcrumb: dose, one
three times a day.  Or you may give cod-liver oil.

_Dysentery_ is a frequent sequel to badly-treated diarrhoea.  It is
simply ulceration of the coats of the bowels, combined with great
emaciation, roughness of coat, dejected look, and loss of appetite.
Unless a very valuable cat, I would not advise you to keep her alive.
You may, however, with patience, bring her round.  Give her, then, a
grain or two of calomel occasionally, and quinine three times a day,
unless she exhibits any tendency to fits.  House her well, and give her
the most generous of diet--raw meat, eggs, etc, and a little port wine
daily, or even a small quantity of brandy.

_Gastritis_, or inflammation of the stomach, is by no means rare in the
cat, and is frequently the result of poison having been given with the
hope of causing death.  The cat simply pines, and gets thin, and refuses
nearly all food, which, when she does eat, causes pain, sickness, and
vomiting.  The bowels, too, are often disordered.  There is nothing
better, in these cases, than the tris-nitrate of bismuth, from one to
three grains to be placed on the tongue twice or thrice daily.  You may
also give occasionally a grain or two of calomel with a little rhubarb

If there is much emaciation, cod-liver oil may be tried, and a small
allowance of raw meat, cut into little bits; and quinine.

_Bronchitis_.--This is a much more common and dangerous disease than is
generally supposed.  It often attacks cats at a particular age--say, six
or eight months--and, indeed, is somewhat analogous to distemper in the
dog.  It is ushered in by the usual symptoms of a bad cold--staring
coat, watery eyes, and a slight cough.  If the disease be confined to
the lining membranes of the nose and throat, there will be but little
cough, but it usually attacks the bronchi (windpipes) themselves.  There
is pain, a slight swelling of the nose, and mattery exudation from both
nose and eyes.  After a few days of the acute comes _the chronic stage_.
Pussy is now a very wretched and unhappy little object indeed.  She
wanders about the house coughing continually, with her little tongue
protruding.  She gets rapidly thin, and refuses all food; and, if not
attended to, generally seeks some quiet, dark corner in which to die.

_Treatment_.--Great good can be done in the first stage by hot
fomentations applied across the face.  These must be frequent, or they
are of no avail.  Keep pussy indoors, and at first let her diet be low--
simply bread and milk, and occasionally fish.  Give her castor-oil
alone, if there is no diarrhoea; if there is, add to the dose two drops
of solution of muriate of morphia.

As the disease gets chronic, and pussy begins to lose flesh, do
everything you can to support her strength by beef-tea, nourishing food,
and wine.  If the cough is troublesome, get her the following,
compounded by your own chemist:--R. Extr. conii, Pil. scillae, co. aa.,
gr. xv.; Camph., gr. xx.  Mix and make into twenty-four pills, and give
one night and morning.

Latterly give cod-liver oil to complete the cure, which, in this case,
will act like magic.

If the mange is present in any shape, it must be carefully seen to as
directed under that heading.

_Fits_.--These are by no means uncommon among our domestic cats.  They
are of various kinds--fainting fits, delirious fits, and convulsive

The former are usually caused by weakness, exposure to the weather, and
general ill-treatment, or loss of blood.  All that is required during
the fit is rest and exposure to a current of cool air.  After the fit
you ought to set about getting pussy's bodily health into better
condition by good food, tonics, and oil.

_Delirious_ fits are those in which the poor cat, through mental or
bodily suffering, apparently goes wild, dashing madly through the house,
springing through a window, and finally hiding herself away in some dark
corner.  You must catch her and put her into a quiet room, and do all
you can to soothe her.  Apply smelling-salts to the nostrils, and bleed.
This operation is easily performed by making a puncture through any of
the small veins inside the ear, and fomenting in hot water.  An emetic--
if the cat is not insensible--will, in all probability, do good, as,
both in the delirious and convulsive fits, the stomach and bowels are
generally out of order.

_Convulsive Fits_.--The cat emits a cry as of pain and terror, and falls
down on her side, foaming at the mouth, and with convulsive motions of
all the limbs, accompanied with cries and moans.  Usually ends in a
delirious fit.  During the fit do nothing at all, except prevent pussy
from injuring herself or any one else; and do this gently and firmly.  A
pinch of snuff or smelling-bottle applied to the nose can do no harm.
Afterwards bleed, and keep her in a quiet, cool room, and treat as for
the delirious fit above described.  When pussy has recovered--and
especially if she has had a succession of fits--something ought to be
done to prevent their recurrence.  If too fat, you must reduce her by
lowering her diet, and giving a little sheep's liver and milt two or
three times a week.  If too thin, tonics and raw meat must be given, and
cod-liver oil every morning.  If, in spite of this, the fits recur, you
must have recourse to such an alterative as the following, which has
done good in many such cases:--R Bromid. potass., gr. xv.; Iod. potass.,
Zinci sulph., aa., gr. v.  Mix with moist breadcrumb, and make twenty
boluses, of which the dose is one night and morning.

_Jaundice_.--Called also the yellows.  The disease can hardly be
mistaken.  It is characterised by general feverishness, loss of
appetite, a disposition to "lie about," and by vomiting of a bright
yellow or green fluid, covered with froth.

The skin, eyes, and lips are also tinged with yellow.  It is often fatal
if not attended to in time.

I give, to begin with, a very small teaspoonful of Glauber salts,
diluted with plenty of water.  It acts as a purgative or emetic, I don't
care which.  If the vomiting continues, try a few grains of white
bismuth placed on the tongue, or take three drops of creosote, and five
of aromatic powder, and form into ten pills, with breadcrumb.  _Dose_,
one three times a day.  For four or five nights running give one grain
of calomel on the tongue.  But watch the symptoms, and omit for a night
or two, if it causes too much purging.  If not, you can give a small
dose of castor-oil in the morning.

As she gets well, strengthen her, and encourage her appetite with
quinine first--no wine--and, after a week or two, with raw meat and
cod-liver oil.

_Milk Fever_.--Only cat-fanciers will believe that poor pussy suffers,
at times, the most cruel tortures, from the thoughtless practice of
depriving her of her kittens all at once.  Either this or cold usually
produces milk fever.  I need not describe it; it being synchronous with
the suckling season will be sufficient to enable even a tyro to diagnose
it.  If the cat is very much excited, and partially or wholly delirious,
bleeding must be resorted to, and afterwards give a castor-oil
purgative, with three or four drops of the compound tincture of camphor,
and keep her in a quiet room.  At the same time, the swollen and painful
teats must be frequently fomented with warm water.

Never take a cat's kittens away all at once, but always leave one at
least.  If she has five, and you mean to drown four, drown two one day
and two the next, so that the first milk may be well drawn off.

I have not mentioned half the ills that feline flesh is heir to, but I
think I have said sufficient to indicate the _general plan of treatment_
of cat diseases.  Let me only just repeat that if you use your pussy
well in the matter of housing, food, and drink--bar accidents--you will
never have her ill at all.



Before going on to speak of the training of youthful pussy, there is one
subject which deserves a word or two at least--namely, the humane
destruction of cats, when such destruction becomes necessary.

Kittens, at least, people have often to get rid of, or the whole world
would be peopled with cats, and that would hardly do.  Although I am no
advocate for the rash and hasty condemnation of the sickest cat that
ever is, still, I must confess that, at times, to destroy a cat is to be
merciful to it.

Never give kittens poison, it is cruel in the extreme; you might
chloroform them to death, but one doesn't like to waste much time in
taking life, if merely a kitten's; the pail is always handy, and the
poor wee things don't really suffer much if you do it properly.  Always
sink them, and keep the pail for three hours, after which bury them at
once.  I'll give you an example of the wrong way of doing things.  Miss
M--n, who lived not a stone's throw from where I now write, and who is
an old maid (and may a merciful Providence keep her so!), was changing
her residence last month, and at the last moment thought she couldn't be
bothered with more than one of her kittens--little Persian beauties,
whom she had let live a whole month--so one was snatched from its
mother's arms, and pitched carelessly into a pail of water.  She never
heeded its cries, nor the mother's piteous appeal to save her offspring;
so presently kitty was dead, to all appearance, and the bucket was
emptied over the wall into an adjoining field.  This was at eleven
o'clock in the morning, and late that evening some boys, in passing,
were attracted to the spot by plaintive mews, and there they found the
kitten crawling in the grass, with sadly swollen body and inflamed
mouth.  The boys drowned and buried it, being more humane than old maid

If necessity, then, compels you to part by death with an old cat, and
probably an old friend and favourite, I do not advise you to have her
drowned.  It is cruel in many ways; there is the catching of her, the
putting of her into the sack with the stone, and the march to the
waterside, the cat knowing all the while what is to happen, and that her
mistress ordered her death.  Do not drown her.  If there is any one you
can really trust, that you are sure knows the difference between a gun
and a washing-stick, by all means have her shot.  It is over in a
moment.  The next best plan is to administer morphia.  Don't grudge her
a good dose--five or even ten grains.  Cats are wonderfully tenacious of
life, but they can't stand that.  Make the morphia into a pill, with a
little of the extract of liquorice, and force it down the throat.  Pussy
will sleep the sleep that knows no waking, and you will have the
satisfaction of knowing she did not suffer.


Apart from teaching a cat tricks, which tend to amuse children or older
folks, there is a training which every pussy needs when young--viz, to
be cleanly and honest.  For some weeks after the kitten has been taken
from its mother, and gone to its new abode, a flower-pot saucer filled
with sand, or, what is better, a small box of garden mould, must be
placed in a particular corner of the room, and the kitten taught to go
there; two or three lessons are usually sufficient.  By degrees wean her
from the box, and teach her to go out of doors.

As to teaching her the difference between _meum_ and _tuum_, I maintain,
with all cat-fanciers, that cats are honest by nature, although they
may, at times, be tempted to steal a herring, or take a slight liberty
with the canary.  The great secret is to feed pussy well, and be kind to
her; you may then let her sit on the table, or even extend to her the
liberty of the press.  Depend upon it she will never do anything to
deserve disfranchisement.

If ever you catch pussy tripping, chastise her; but don't forget this,
you must do so only very moderately, or in the fright she will forget
what she is being whipped for.  A little bit of whalebone is the best
thing to use, but take care you do not hit her about the head.  I have
often known cats severely chastised for what they were quite innocent
of.  One pussy, I remember, used to be thrashed every day for a whole
week for a certain act of impropriety, and it turned out, after all,
that Charley, the black-and-tan, was the real culprit.  She took it out
of Charley, however.  She whipped him upstairs, and she whipped him
down, and finally she whipped him over the window, which was two storeys
high.  Poor Charley was much hurt, and didn't turn up again for a

Would you have your cat a good mouser?  Then _feed her regularly_ and
liberally; I assure you, madam, that is the whole secret.

Cats, when young, can be taught a whole host of amusing tricks.

The most graceful of these is, perhaps, leaping heights.  A cat that has
had constant exercise at this sort of thing will spring almost
incredible distances.  The best plan to train her to this is to attach a
hare's foot to the end of a rod and set it in motion for her.  You can
every day place it a little higher, and she will soon take to it
naturally.  Cats thus trained will climb the tallest trees, and leap
from branch to branch like squirrels.

By holding your arms in front of pussy you will soon teach her to leap
backwards and forwards over them.  As she gets older, increase the
distance of your arms from the ground, until at last you place them
right over your head, and pussy will go over and through like any old

You may teach her to go through a hoop, or hoops, held at any elevation,
and in all conceivable positions.  Remember always to speak kindly to
her when teaching her anything.  Never chastise her; and when she has
performed her little feat to your satisfaction, make much of her, and
give her a morsel of fish, or any favourite food.

Cats are easily taught to fish in this manner: take them when young to a
shallow stream, on a clear day, where the minnows are plentiful, and
throw in a dead one or two, and encourage the cat to catch them.  She
will soon be after the living ones.

I had a cat that I taught to retrieve like a dog, and to fetch and
carry.  The same cat had for its constant companion my cheeky little
starling, who used to hop about and on her, pick her teeth, and open her
claws, but she never attempted to molest him.

You can teach your cat to follow you like a dog, and take long walks
with you, and to come to you whenever you call her by whistling.

I have told you how to make your cat a good mouser, now I'll give you
another wrinkle--how to make her a good trickster--_love her_ and take
an interest in all her little performances, and you will be surprised at
the amount of tricks she will learn.

Without reference to the accomplishments of performing cats, who require
a special education, I may here enumerate just a few of the many simple
performances, which, with firmness, gentleness, and patience, you may
easily teach any cat of ordinary brain calibre.  A cat may be taught to
beg like a dog; to embrace you; to pat your nose or your neighbour's
nose when told--(N.B. It's just as well it should _always_ be your
neighbour's nose)--to down charge; to watch by a mouse's hole; to stand
in a corner on her hind legs; to move rhythmically to music; to mew when
told; to shut her eyes when told; to leap six or eight feet through a
hoop or over your head; to feign sleep; to feign death; to open or shut
a door; to ring the bell; to fish; to swim, and retrieve either in the
water or on the land.

I have a cat who, if I hold her up in front of the map of London, will
place her paw upon any principal building I like to name.  The cat has
been used to be carried round the room to catch flies on the wall.  The
principal buildings in the map are marked with square black spots, which
she naturally mistakes for flies, so you have only to hold her in front
of the map nearest to the spot you want her to touch, and slightly
elevate your voice when you name the place, and the thing is done.



Before we can thoroughly understand the ways and habits of any animal,
we must try, in a manner, to put ourselves in that animal's place, and
thus be able to study life from its point of view.

I don't believe that God made any creature to be otherwise than happy,
and He has endowed each member of His creation with just that amount of
reason and instinct which shall enable it to find its food and a place
to rest in, make love in its own way, marry after its own fashion--by
civil contract--bring up its young, and, in a word, be generally jolly.
I found a poor bee this morning getting drowned in the water-butt.
"Yes," I said, "I'll save your life, but I will give you as a treat to
my pet spider."  Man has the proposing, but not the disposing.  I laid
my bee for one moment on the edge of the butt to dry, when whirr! away
he darted through the bright morning sunshine, and my spider had to be
content with a bluebottle for breakfast.  This spider, I may tell you,
is a very large and beautiful specimen, striped and marked like a silver
tabby.  He lives in an outhouse, and has a web, the network of which is
a yard in diameter, with goodness knows how many feet of tack, and
sheet, and stay, and guy.  And a very amusing rascal he is, and not a
bit afraid of me.  Nearly every day, I give him a bee with the sting
out.  (It is in the kaleidoscope of events; that some day I may leave
the sting in, just to see how he feels it.)  I place the bee in the web,
and it is amusing to see how quickly my friend shins up the rigging--he
catches the bee by the shoulders, and makes him spin for a few seconds
like a top, till he is completely enveloped in a gauzy shroud, and there
is a big hole in the web.  I tell my spider he shouldn't make a hole in
the web.  "Never mind that," he replies, "soon make that all right," and
sure enough next morning the web is nicely repaired, and the bee nearly
eaten.  I don't think he eats all the bee himself.  I am convinced that
he has a little wife who lives somewhere in a corner, and that every day
he is careful to send her a leg, or a wing, or a bit of the breast.
Well, he is happy, I know.  Hadn't he a nice private house, without rent
or taxes, maybe a wife, and a thriving business, to say nothing at all
about the bee.  I have studied cats as I have studied that spider.  I
have imagined myself that spider.  I have been, or imagined myself to
be, a cat--a Tom, you know, and I can fully understand a pussy's life
and a pussy's joys and sorrows.

"How different," I thought, as I mused one morning under a tree, "is the
life of a cat from that of a dog.  I'm the parson's cat to be sure, but
then I'm my own master.  Now, there is the parson's Saint Bernard dog,
Dumpling for instance,--an honest, contented fellow enough, but, bless
you, he isn't free.  _I_ am.  Dumpling can't do as he pleases.  I can.
I can go to bed when I like, rise when I like, and eat and drink, when,
where, or what I choose.  Dumpling _can't_.  Really I feel I can forgive
Dumpling for chasing me into the apple-tree last Sunday when I think of
the dull life the dog leads, and how few are his joys compared to mine.
Poor Dumpling needs servants to wait upon him, and he can't even walk a
couple of miles, and make sure of his way home, or sure of not getting
into a row, or not getting stolen, or something else equally ridiculous.
The other day Dumpling actually sat on the door-step for two hours in
the rain, till his great shaggy coat was wet through and through,
because, forsooth, he didn't know how to get the door opened.  Would I
have done that?  No.  I should have walked up politely to the first
kind-faced passenger, and asked that passenger to `be good enough to
ring this bell for me, please, 'cause I ain't big enough,' and the thing
would have been done.  Could Dumpling unlatch a door or catch a mouse?
Could he climb a tree and rob a sparrow's nest? or could he find his way
home over the tiles on a dark night?  I would laugh to see him try.

"Now here am I on this bright, beautiful summer morning, as fresh as a
daisy, as happy as a king.  Catch me sleeping in the house on a summer's

"How sweetly the birds are singing, but how much more sweetly they will
taste!  What a glorious day I had of it yesterday all through!  Put in
an appearance at the parson's breakfast-table, just for fashion's sake,
and pretended to drink the milk my kind mistress placed before me.
Fairly won the old lady's heart by rubbing my head affectionately
against the canary's cage.  `Dear Tom,' said she, `_you_ would never
touch the pretty bird?'  Oh! wouldn't I, though?

"What a nasty old man that Farmer Trump is!  I'm sure, if it wasn't that
I have a taste for pigeons, and am a little bit of a Columbarian, I
would never have thought of looking at his lot, anyhow.  Besides, I had
only eaten two when in came _he_, and out went _I_.  Well, if he didn't
take his gun and fire after me.  Well, if he hadn't done anything of the
sort, he wouldn't have shot his bantam cock.

"I didn't go into that milk cellar of my own free will.  It was purely
accidental.  I was chased by a dog, but being in, how could I, being
only a thirsty cat, and amid such profusion, help helping myself to a
drop of cream?  And if the clumsy old dairymaid hadn't thrown her shoe
at me, she wouldn't have broken the milk-house window.  It was no
business of mine.  I met Master Black-and-tan outside, and warmed him.
I gave _him_ sore eyes.  That old shoe brought luck with it, however,
for about an hour after I found myself in a large and beautiful garden,
filled with beds of the rarest flowers.  It isn't always you get a bed
made for you, thinks I; so I scraped about me a bit, and went off to
sleep in the sun.  Where did that half-brick come from?  I wonder.  I'm
somehow of opinion that it was meant for me.  However, if people will
use profane language, and heave bricks at the heads of unoffending cats,
they mustn't be astonished if they do smash the cucumber frame.

"I find it so much better to live in the free forest, because, if I live
in the house, a day never passes that I do not get into a row, and I
always get the worst of it.  Only yesterday I looked in for a few
minutes at tea-time, and there was Dumpling standing, with a yard of
tongue hanging from one side of his mouth; and Master must pat him, and
call him a fine fellow; then I jumped on the sofa-stool, and smacked him
in the face, and Dumpling knocked down the stool to get at me, besides a
cup and saucer, with his wisp of a tail, and I bolted through a pane of
glass, and got blamed for that.  Day before, a mouse was pleased to get
behind a china vase, and I had to break the vase to get at it--I got
blamed for that.  Same day I ran away with a mackerel.  That mackerel
seemed positively to say, `Oh, pussy, do run away with me, and eat me in
some nice, quiet corner.'  And I did; and, would you believe it, I was
even blamed for that!

"I'm going to see Zelina to-night.  Zelina is a beautiful black Persian
angel, with hazel eyes and flowing fur, and a voice that would lure the
larks from the sky.  Zelina belongs to the barber, and I met her by
appointment in the back garden, and found her very thick with three
other fellows.  That's the worst of Zelina.  But I fellowed them!  For
five minutes you wouldn't have seen either of us for fluff, and at the
end of that time little remained of the other cats save the teeth.
Meanwhile Zelina looked calmly on.  Then I wooed Zelina beneath the
moon, and thrashed her, and beat her, and bit her, till at last she
consented to fly with me to a foreign shore; but we made such a row that
we awoke the brute of a barber, and he threw a basin of dirty water
right over us, and there was no more foreign shore thought of.  But I'll
see her to-night, sweet Zelina!"

I'll conclude this paper with a rather curious anecdote, told me by
Captain A. Brown, late of Arbroath, now of Chatham, Canada.  "We have a
cat," says Captain Brown, "who brought up a kitten in a loft above the
woodshed, until it was old enough to wean; she then brought it down to
run about, but the dog (a puppy) would on every opportunity take the
kitten in its mouth and drag it about.  This the cat didn't seem to
like, so one day she took it in her mouth, and carried it along, on the
top of the fence, to the nearest farm, a quarter of a mile off, where
the _kitten's father lived_.  She placed the kitten at the male parent's
feet, gave it suck once more, then started off home along the fence, and
never went near it again."

This anecdote, for the truth of which the captain vouches, clearly
proves that pussy has a much larger amount of reasoning power than most
people give her credit for.  It was just as though pussy had addressed
the male cat thus:

"I've brought you your youngster, Thomas.  It cannot live at home for
the mischievous puppy.  Goodness knows I've done _my_ duty to him as a
mother; now, hub, you have a turn.  Time about's fair-play, Thomas;



  "The dignity of life is not impaired
  By aught which innocently satisfies
  The humbler cravings of the heart; and he
  Is still a happier man, who, for the heights
  Of speculation not unfit, descends,
  And such benign affections cultivates,
  Among the inferior kinds."


I think many of the miseries which the "harmless necessary cat" has to
endure in this wicked world of hers and ours would be mitigated if not
entirely removed, were we only to take the trouble to study and consider
what a wonderfully reasoning and sensible little thing she is.  "Leave
the study to old maids," I think I hear some manly (?) reader exclaim.
But why to old maids?  It is you who are unkind to pussy, and regardless
of her comforts, and not old maids.  And indeed, indeed now, I never for
the life of me could see why any stigma should attach itself to an old
maid any more than to a cat.  Most of the old maids I have known were
very agreeable persons indeed, and I've spent many a quiet and enjoyable
hour with old maids over a cup of homely tea.  My two maternal aunts are
old maids, they even plead guilty to the soft impeachment, but cheerier
bodies you wouldn't meet anywhere.  They go three times to the kirk on a
Sunday, to be sure, and wouldn't cook a meal on that sacred day for a
world.  But just see them on a week-day, look at their bright smiling
faces--what odds if they do try to appear a few years younger?--and ah!
just see them go through the intricate figures of the mazy Reel o'
Tulloch, and hear them crack their thumbs, and cry "hooch!" you wouldn't
say old-maidendom was so very dreary after that.  It isn't always a
woman's fault if she can't get married: many, whose early affections
have been blighted, would not marry if they could, for haven't they got
a posy somewhere, a locket with a face, a lock of hair, and a faded
ribbon which erst was bonny blue--relics of lost love, around which
cling sweetest memories of the past?  Besides, have not unmarried ladies
more opportunities to taste the sweets of doing good, and, better still,
more time to cherish hopes of happiness hereafter, which are worth a
world of wedded bliss?

Cats then, like old maids, are fifty times worse than they are painted,
and the reason why people don't like them is because they don't
understand them.  I have at this moment a large and beautiful tabby, and
I positively rejoice that that cat is so fierce to everyone but me,
because before I got her she was subjected to the most barbarous
treatment, neither fed, nor housed, nor watered, and I believe I was the
first person from whom she ever got a word of kindness.  No wonder that
at first she did not understand my meaning.  But she does now, though
she never will be tame; but if I am asleep she mounts guard on the table
near me, and her purring chant is speedily turned into a low, ominous
growl if any one but touches the handle of the door.  Does she know that
I am asleep, and that one in sleep is helpless as regards defence?  I'm
sure she does, for--

_Cats know the nature of sleep in others_.--A friend of mine has a
pussy, Kate to name, who has been early trained to habits of
cleanliness.  When Kate wishes to get out at night she goes to her
master's bedside, and mews loudly and entreatingly.  To see how she will
behave, sometimes her master pretends to be fast asleep, and snores
loudly.  "Oh!" thinks puss to herself, "this will never do;" so she
invariably stands upon her hind legs, and pats his face with her gloved
hand.  When he gets up, she trots pleasantly before him towards a little
window, which he opens for her, and admits her into the garden.  The
same cat for many years used to seat herself regularly every night on a
chest of drawers, waiting patiently till the door of the adjoining
cupboard was thrown open for her: this cupboard was a very prolific
hunting-ground of pussy's.  When she had kittens, and they were able to
eat, she used to bring all the mice to them, and present them with that
fond "murring" mew which all cat lovers know so well.

Everybody knows that cats can open doors if left off the latch, and also
that they soon get up to the mechanism of the old-fashioned
hand-and-thumb latch; they open this by springing up, and holding on to
the hand portion with one arm, while they press down the thumb portion
with the other foot.

A lady friend of mine has a large Tabby Tom who can open a room door, by
standing on his hind legs and turning the knob with his teeth.  This is
clever, but cats even know how to _fasten_ doors, at least some do; and
this same _lady was once in_ a cupboard, when one of her pussies came
and turned on the button latch of the door, and made her a prisoner for
some considerable time!

In a small village which I know, there is an old woman who lives by
keeping lodgers of the more humble description.  As these have often to
get up and be off early in the morning, the woman always gives them
strict injunctions to shut the door when they go out, for fear of
thieves.  One morning a lodger had forgotten to obey his landlady's
instructions.  Pussy, however, had witnessed the infraction of the rule,
and walked directly to her mistress's bedside, and began to mew most
plaintively.  Nor would she be content till the woman got up, when the
cat led her directly to the door.  Pussy wouldn't go out, but so soon as
the door was shut, led the way again back to bed, _singing_.  Old
women's cats are nearly always wiser than others--they get more care
taken with their training, and more comfort and love.  They know all the
ways, likes, and dislikes of a beloved mistress, and study them just as
they do their own.  Indeed, some of the things I have known old women's
cats do are unaccountable in any other way, but the belief that they are
possessed of a very high amount of intelligence and reasoning power.  No
wonder our ignorant ancestors believed them possessed of devils.

You see it is just like this--when you once get a cat to love you, you,
and you only, will become the study of her whole life.  She soon finds
out what pleases you, and what vexes you, and also what you love, and,
whether that be dog or child, she will love it too, to please you.

Cats will often, very often--just like dogs--lead those they love to
places where something or some creature is in danger.  It may be, as
happened to myself once, while residing in Lincoln, two summers ago,
when a cat came towards me out of an entry, and, as plain as any animal
could speak, gazed up into my face, and cried: "Come, oh come and help
me?"  I followed, and she led me down the garden to a closet, through
which her kitten had dropped into the cesspool below.  Now just think
for one moment of the amount of sagacity shown in this case!  Piteously
the little kit had mewed to her mother: "Mother, mother, come and help
me?"  Pussy's answer had been: "My dear, I can't, but I'll soon find
those who will."  And that was precisely my answer to the mother cat,
when I saw the state of affairs, and I kept my word.

And once again a pussy--this time my own--led me a long way from my work
to a distant outhouse to see her kits.  After she got me to the spot
where they were, she rolled on her back and held them up one by one to
be admired.

I knew the case of a cat bringing her mistress hastily to a room where
her sick child lay.  The child had rolled on to the floor, and would
have been smothered, except for pussy's timely aid.

Some will hardly credit this, because they do not see the working of the
internal machine--pussy's mind--nor know the motive power--love, love,
love.  _Amor vincit omnia_.



"Ma conscience! mither, it kens its name?"  Such was the exclamation of
a little ragged and kilted urchin, in the remote Highlands of
Argyllshire, as he heard me call my dog to give him a drink.  The day
was exceedingly warm, and we had had a long walk over the mountain, and
had been kindly invited into a shepherd's hut, and asked to partake of a
draught of cool, sweet whey--the very best of summer beverages.  Nero
was having a "talkee-talkee" with some rabbits, and didn't see his whey
until I called his attention to it; hence the wondering urchin's

"Hoo shouldna he?" said the mother; "poor wise-lookin' beast.  Ise
warrant he kens mair than that."

The idea of even a child thinking it strange Theodore Nero [the
Newfoundland champion] should know his name was so amusing that I gave
the boy "twa bawbees" on the spot.

And just on a par with this boy's ignorance, is the unbelieving
ignorance of some people who doubt everything they cannot understand,
however well authenticated.  This doubting implies an assumption on
their part that the knowledge they possess is the highest attainable,
that their minds are, in fact, complete in themselves.  It is people of
this class--fools--who doubt the existence of even a Supreme Being.  I
read in a late number of the _Live Stock Journal_ an account of a cat,
which, seeing its master sick in bed, and unable to move, brought a
mouse to him, and on her master pretending to eat it, the same day
brought him a striped squirrel; and every day, until he got well,
brought "game" of some sort and laid them on his bed.

I believe I, myself, was the first who ever _dared_ to publish a case of
the same kind.  The story was this: A poor ploughman, who lived in a
little hut at the foot of the Moffat Hills, in Scotland, fell sick of a
long, lingering illness--and when the poor are ill they are poorer
still; it is then the shoe pinches.  This poor man had nothing in the
house but meal and milk.  The doctor said he must have wine.  His wife
pledged her marriage-gown to get it.  The doctor said he must have meat.
That was beyond their power to procure.  But a merciful Providence had
willed the man should live; and one day the little tortoiseshell cat,
which was a great favourite with the poor ploughman, and had been very
dull and wretched since his illness, brought in a rabbit--a thing, mind
you, she had never done before--and placed it on the bed.  She appeared
to brighten up as she saw it skinned and cooked by the ploughman's wife,
and partaken of by her sick master.  And next day she brought another,
and so on, almost every day, a rabbit or a bird, until her master was
well, after _which she brought no more_.  I took very considerable pains
to test the truth of this story, and went to some expense about it as
well, and found it in every whit true as first related to me.  [See
"Cats," by same Author.  Dean and Sons, Publishers, 160a, Fleet Street.]

Since then I have had one or two cases precisely similar to the above,
in which cats brought their "game-bag" to the bed of a sick master or

It is indisputable, then, that such things have been done over and over
again.  And now the question comes to be, how are we to account for it?
In ancient times, these poor, affectionate pussies would doubtless have
been condemned to death as being witches in feline form.

In our own day such cases are usually put down to a special
interposition of Providence.  Now, without doubting for a moment that
there is a Divinity which shapes the end, we must remember that that
Divinity works more by simple laws than miraculous means, and
consequently endeavour to account for the occurrences in a natural way.

Cats, we know, after they have weaned their kittens, are in the habit of
bringing them mice, etc, by way of food.  This we do not think at all
strange, and we put it down to that much-abused term--instinct.  But the
following anecdote shows, I think, something higher than mere instinct,
and will help us to understand why the cat will bring food to a sick
master or mistress.

A certain cat had kittens.  They were all drowned except one, which, of
course, became a great pet with pussy, who, after putting it through a
course of milk, put it through a course of mice, according to the custom
of country cats.  The kitten grew up into a fine large Tom, and was big
enough to thrash his mother, which I'm sorry to say the unfilial rascal
sometimes did.  But a day came when he had need of that mother's love.
Tom had his leg torn off in a trap, and was confined to his pallet of
straw for several weeks, and never, one single day of his illness, did
his mother miss bringing her wounded son either birds or mice, until he
was able to run once more, though on three legs, to go and hunt them for
himself.  This cat is living still, I believe.  It is quite evident that
a cat's affection for, and attachment to, a beloved master, are quite
equal to their love for a grown-up son, and the same feelings which
prompt her to minister to the latter when ill, and unable to move, would
cause her to attend on the other.

Cats easily know when any one they love is sick or ailing.  I returned
home a few years ago, after an absence of some six months, very bad
indeed.  I thought I was a "gone coon," as the Yanks say, and didn't
feel to have any more flesh on my ribs than there is on those telegraph
wires.  Well, my pet cat was rejoiced to see me, and hardly ever left my
room.  She would never leave me, it is true, but still there was
something very strange in her behaviour.  For she must have seen
something strange in my appearance.  Whether she took me for an impostor
or not, I cannot say, but she always sat facing me whenever I was
seated, seldom taking her eyes off my face, and her brows were lowered
as if she were angry with me about something.  What were pussy's
thoughts?  I asked this question one day of my father's housekeeper.
"The cat kens ye'er no lang for this warld," said Eppie; "gin I were
you, I'd just mak' my callin' and election sure."  Calling and election!
How I hated the old rook!  Cats have an idea that when any one is
ailing, it _must_ be for want of food.  Poor things!  How often they
suffer hunger and privations themselves, goodness only can tell!  This
idea is not confined to cats alone.  Dogs, at least, I know possess the
same notion.  I could give many anecdotes to prove this, but as this
book is presumably on cats, I must only give one.

An Inverness-shire student was returning from the south, and with him
his faithful Scottish collie.  In the Highlands there are generally two
roads, the high and the low; the low road being the longest and of
course the safest, and the high much shorter, but usually leading
through some ugly bits of country, which are far from safe even by day,
and much less by night.  It was a beautiful night, quite clear and
starry, with just the slightest crust of snow on the ground, barely
enough to darken the heather.  But such being the case, the student
thought he could easily venture to cross by the hills, and thus save a
mile or two.  Early next morning, a woman at a neighbouring farm was
surprised, while baking bannocks, by the entrance of a strange collie.
The collie did not use much ceremony, but simply stole the largest
bannock, and fled.  This, of course, was not thought much of.  The dog
was hungry, and the morning cold, and he was welcome to the bannock,
although it would have been more satisfactory for both sides had he
asked for it.  The same dog returned, however, in a few hours, and his
behaviour was so strange that one of the family was induced to follow
him.  The dog led him a long way over the mountains, and at last brought
up at the foot of a precipice, near a stream, where "something dark was
lying."  This something dark was no other than the poor student, who had
slipped his foot on the previous night, and tumbled over the rock.  He
was at first supposed to be dead, but soon revived, having merely
fractured a thigh, and become insensible from the cold; but the strange
part of the story is to come--the bannock, all untouched, reclined
against the student's cheek, _placed there by the dog_.  [At page 83,
volume three, "Annals of Sporting," an instance of collie-dog sagacity
very similar to this is given.]

Not only do cats know sickness in others, but they are acquainted in
some way with the mystery of death.  Observe a cat, for instance, that
has played with a mouse until she has killed it.  Just see the critical
way she turns it over and over with her foot, and glares into its
glazing eyes.  She wants to make sure the wee thing is not shamming;
but, being satisfied, mark her as she coolly stretches herself, or walks
slowly away from her victim, as much as to say: "Well, I've had half an
hour's good fun, anyhow.  Might have eaten it as long as it was alive,
though; but I can't bear a dead mouse.  So it's just as broad as it's



  "The best-laid schemes o' mice and men
                  Gang aft agley,
  An' leave us nought but grief and pain
                  For promised joy."


And if the schemes of mice and men often "gang agley," it is not to be
wondered at that the sagacity of the domestic cat is sometimes at fault.
A very large and beautiful cat, belonging to a lady in Dumbarton, was
very much attached to its home--more so, perhaps, in this case, than to
its mistress, for one day, much to pussy's disgust, disreputable-looking
men in aprons--so pussy thought them--came to the house and began to
remove the furniture.  Pussy sat on the hearthrug, washing her face with
a spittle and musing.  "I've been so happy here," she was thinking; "I
know every mouse's hole in the house, and the places in the garden where
I can hide to catch the sparrows, and the gaps in the hedge through
which I can bolt when that Skye-terrier chases me, and the whitethorn
bush beneath whose scented boughs I meet dear Tom in the moonlight.  Oh!
the thoughts of leaving Tom--no, I cannot, will not, leave the old
house.  Missus can hang herself if she likes.  Happy thought, I'll
hide--hide in the linen drawer, till this cruel war is over, and then
come forth, mistress of all I survey."  And so she did; but,
unfortunately for her calculations, the chest of drawers was moved as
well; and when at last she did "come forth," much to her bewilderment
she was in a house which she had never seen before in her life.

The following anecdotes may not be thought uninteresting; they are taken
almost at random from hosts of others in my possession, or, if there has
been any choice in the matter, they have been chosen because the three
cats, whose stories here are told, lived in widely different parts of
the globe, clearly proving that a cat is a cat all the world over.
We'll give the English cat the preference.  There is nothing very
wonderful in his history.  Tom was born and bred in Gloucestershire; he
was presented to his master and mistress, the former of whom was a
schoolmaster, when quite a little kitten, and soon became a great
favourite with both.  Tom, who was a tabby, soon grew in strength and
beauty, until there were few male or female cats in the neighbourhood
who did not own him lord and master.  But Tom was so fond of his owners
that he spent but little time either fighting or courting, much to his
credit be it said.  About this time, his master and mistress used to
make frequent visits to a neighbouring village.  Tom was not permitted
to accompany them; but, whatever time they returned, by night or by day,
wet weather or dry, poor Tom always met them nearly a mile from their
own house.

Tom was remarkably fond of the schoolchildren, and every day, as
regularly as the clock struck twelve, at which hour the school was
released for the forenoon, Tom presented himself all ready for a romp.
The family dinner-hour was one o'clock, and Tom never failed to attend.
There was a knocker on the door, and whenever pussy found the door
closed, he used to _jump up and knock_, just as he had seen strangers

Tom knew the days of the week, for he was never known to set out for
school on Saturdays or Sundays, for the simple reason that he knew the
school was closed.

Another strange trait in Tom's character was his fondness for poultry.
"He would feed with _very young_ chickens, and with the ducks and hens,
never attempting to molest the weakest of them, but would even yield to
them, and frequently leave the choicest bits for them."  Tom's life was
a very happy one until his owners removed to Leamington.  Here, in the
same house with him, were a parcel of rude, badly-bred children, who
persistently ill-treated the poor cat, till at last Tom was missing; and
it was found he had taken up his abode in a fowl-house among his old
friends.  This was rather a down-come for the poor cat, and he must have
felt as wretched as a human being whom, after living for years in
luxury, misfortune had at last condemned to the poor-house.  Being
removed back to his owner's house, and the children still continuing
their persecutions, Tom fled to the woods and became a bandit, and no
doubt met with a bandit cat's death, and died in a trap.  So we leave

Tom Brandy was an Australian miner's cat.  The miners baptised him in
_aguardiente_, and hence his name.  He was a beautiful large black cat,
with one white spot on his chest, invaluable as a hunter, and came down
like a whirlwind on every dog he saw.  He was a good example of the
travelling cat; he would follow his master every Sunday in Melbourne to
church, hide in a neighbouring garden till the preaching was over, and
then trot home behind him.  He would lead like a dog in a string.  Tom's
travelling carriage was an old gin case.  Into this Tom would jump
whenever he saw preparations made for striking the tent, and lie there
without ever appearing, at times for a whole day, until the new
camping-ground was reached.  Yes, a wild life Tom led of it in the
Australian bush.  When Tom's master left for "merrie England," Tom
proved himself just as good a ship cat as he had been a miner's puss.
Only, mind you, Tom liked his comforts when he could get them.  It was
no business of his if his master and family chose to be intermediate
passengers.  He knew better, and attached himself to the cabin,
although, to show he did not forget his owners, he used to pay them a
visit every evening, to see, I suppose, if they had everything they
wanted.  On the arrival of the ship at Birkenhead, the purser, after
offering two pounds for Tom in vain, stole Tom Brandy; but Tom was at
his master's house that night, nevertheless.

Tom's future home was Montrose, where he lived for two years happy
enough, after which he mysteriously disappeared, and was not seen again
for nineteen months.  Where had he been?  What had he been doing?  How
had he lived?  _N'importe_!  Tom Brandy turned up again very thin and
very angry, and wanted to fight everybody save his own master.  Tom
lived happy ever after--that is, for three years, when he laid down upon
a shelf and died like a Christian.  And the days and years of Tom
Brandy's life were sixteen and over, and he weighed a little under
seventeen pounds.

Timby is also a Tom cat, and lives at Dunbeath Castle, Caithness; a
pretty black-and-white animal, weighing about ten pounds.  Timby is the
coachman's cat; and as his master lives in a retired part of the
country, the two are naturally very much attached to each other.  Timby
follows his master round the grounds and policies just like a dog.  When
little more than a kitten he proved himself a perfect Nimrod among cats,
brought down birds from the highest trees, tore up moles from their
tunnels, and was death upon rats and mice wherever he saw them.

Since he has grown up to years of discretion, Timby has learned to
despise such paltry game as mice or rats.  The Highlands of Scotland, as
the reader doubtless knows, are infested with rabbits, and many a poor
farmer is ruined by them; and these Timby makes his special quarry.  It
is his habit to stay out all night, and he seldom appears without a
coney in the morning.  If his master will accept the rabbit, Timby is
very much pleased.  If his master won't, and pushes it away with his
foot, "Oh, very well," says Timby, "I'll have the rabbit; you have that
herring of yours--I question if it will keep another day;" and he trots
off with his prey.

Three years ago his master got a nice retriever dog, and to this dog
Timby was at first exceedingly cruel, but latterly he grew very much
attached to it; and as often as he can spare a rabbit he brings it to
the dog's kennel, and seems pleased to see him devour it.

Like my own cat or cats, Timby will defend his master with his heart's
blood.  One day when Mr McKenzie, Timby's master, was trying a new
terrier with a rabbit, Timby, who had followed unperceived, as soon as
he heard the rabbit scream, doubtless came to the conclusion that his
master was in danger, and sprang fiercely on another dog which Mr
McKenzie was holding.  The battle was short and bloody, and the poor dog
had to retire very much worsted.  Another day, when the coachman and his
cat were lying together on the grass, a friend came up, and was just in
the act of throwing himself on the turf likewise, when Timby flew upon
him and lacerated his face very severely, and it was with some
difficulty his master got him off.

Timby goes regularly to the sea with his master to swim the dogs, but
does not himself take the water.  But in coming home a rabbit is often
started.  Then away go the dogs, and away goes Timby, and, strange as it
may seem in rabbit-coursing, Timby would gain as many, if not more,
points than the terriers.  However, there is no sort of spirit of
rivalry betwixt them, and if the dogs choose to beat a field for
rabbits, Timby stands by to catch them; again, when the dogs prefer to
"lay by," Timby with pleasure goes and beats the field for them.

If Timby knows there is any vermin in a burrow, he has patience enough
to wait till he secures it! and he has been known to lie near a hole
_for nine hours_ in a stormy day, before his patience was rewarded.



We all know that almost any dog that has lived a reasonable number of
years, and isn't a kennel dog, but one of the family, as it were,
understands pretty nearly all that is said in his presence, if it at all
concerns him.  My Theodore Nero is exceedingly 'cute in this respect.
When I have to go out without taking him along with me, he will lie
listening attentively, with just half an eye open, till he finds out in
what particular direction I mean to go.  After I leave home he tries
every trick and wile to get round the servant, and generally succeeds;
so that, on turning a corner of the road, ten to one I find the
identical dog I left asleep in the parlour, coolly waiting for me.
Indeed, I have often to leave my orders about him in bad French, as my
wife doesn't understand good Gaelic.  I get to windward of the dog that
way, and, I fear, sometimes to windward of the wife too; the haziness of
my French leaving the one just as wise as the other.

Till very recently, some people wouldn't even admit that a cat could
know its own name; some people get wiser every day, and I, for one,
believe that cats know fully as much of what we say as dogs do.  As an
instance of this, I give you the following anecdote, which may be

_A Cat with a Conscience_.--A certain Mr Coutts, of Newhills, Aberdeen,
is very fond of both cats and poultry, and studies the tricks and
manners of both.  He recently had a hen with a large brood of chickens,
the number of which day after day became lessened by one at least.  The
place was always searched, but not the slightest trace of a dead one
could be discovered.  The poor cock was blamed, ravens were suspected,
and hawks deemed guilty; but still there was some mystery about it, and
the chicks went on getting fewer and fewer.  About this time it was
observed that whenever the subject was brought up, the favourite cat
seemed all at once to grow exceedingly uneasy and restless, and finally
bolted off through the nearest open door.  This naturally aroused
suspicion.  Pussy was watched, and found one day in the very act of
walking away with a chicken.

I have another anecdote, something similar, of a cat called Polly.
Polly had one failing, although otherwise a virtuous cat, and extremely
honest--she could not resist the temptation of stealing a bit of cheese,
whenever she could do so unperceived.  But note the slyness of this
pussy: she could never be prevailed upon to touch cheese, even if
offered to her in the presence of any one of the family, evidently
reasoning thus with herself: "If I pretend I can't eat cheese because it
disagrees with me, they will never blame me for stealing it, and I shall
often find myself locked in the same room--glorious thought!--with a
whole Cheddar."

It is a well-known fact that dogs often take particular dislikes to
certain people.  They appear, in many cases, to be much better judges of
character than we ourselves are.  I believe this instinct, or whatever
else it is, is not confined to dogs alone, but is equally shared by
other animals.  Cats, I know, possess it in a very remarkable degree.
They know by some means, which I will not pretend to understand, those
individuals who have a soft side towards them.  Why, for instance, did
that strange cat at Lincoln single me out from dozens of people who were
on the street, and ask me to go to the rescue of her kitten?

Why do cats often pass other people by, and come up to me on the
pavement, requesting me to ring the bell, that they may get in out of
the wet?  There are two strange cats who sleep in the sun almost daily
in a corner of my front garden.  If any one comes along they bolt at
once, but when I pass up and down, they merely look at me and lie still;
and I never speak to them, unless, perhaps, just a passing word.  But,
what is still more strange, Theodore Nero walks up and down past them
without causing them the slightest alarm.  Yet, what a tremendous
monster he must appear to them!  They just look at him, wonderingly, as
much as to say: "Oh, you great, good-natured-looking brute, however you
can catch mice and sparrows enough to fill your enormous stomach, I
can't tell?"

I know a lady who is very fond of cats, and when out walking or shopping
in town, it is quite a usual thing for her to be accosted by some poor
half-starved waif or stray, and very often she goes into a shop and buys
food for them, for which, no doubt, they are grateful, and for which, no
doubt, she will one day receive her reward from Him who careth even for
the humble sparrows.  This lady was passing a house one time where a
poor cat was confined, the usual occupants having gone to the seaside,
and left pussy shut up in the empty house.  As soon as she stopped at
the door of the house, the cat's cries were quite pitiable to hear.  As
soon as this lady left the door, the cries ceased, only to be renewed
whenever she returned.  But pussy did not make the same noises when
others stopped in front of the door.

_A Cat deserting one Home for another_.--A tortoiseshell-and-white cat,
belonging now to a friend of mine, came into his possession in rather a
singular way.  The cat was originally the property of a neighbour of my
friend, whose house was on the opposite side of the street, and about
thirty yards off.  There she stayed, apparently perfectly contented and
happy, until she became the mother of four kittens.  Then, for some
reason or other known only to herself, she determined to shift her
quarters, and one day my friend was astonished to see Kate, as she was
called, march into his house with a kitten in her mouth, which she
deposited in a safe and comfortable corner, and then set off for the
others, which she brought one by one.  Remember this, the cat had never
been in my friend's house before!  Kate's kittens were taken back again
to her old home, and Kate marched them all over again to the home of her
choice.  And this was done every day for a whole week.

"It's no earthly use, you know," Kate seemed to say.  "What I says I
means, and what I does I sticks to."

And so my friend had to adopt both Kate and her family, previously
having failed in an attempt to starve her out, for Kate had adopted a
system of house-to-house begging, but always came home in the evening.

This cat for fourteen years used to sit patiently on the arm of her
master's chair until dinner was done and she was helped.

It is exceedingly rude, I know, to doubt a lady's word, but _can you
believe_ what follows?  'A lady assures me that she has such an
inexplicable and innate antipathy to cats, that if she enters a strange
room she can tell at once if there is a cat there, whether she sees it
or not.  And if a cat is carried suddenly into a room where she is, she
"faints dead away."

Another lady friend of mine, who is very fond of animals of all sorts,
while living down in Brighton last October, was hastening home one
evening just about dusk, when she suddenly found that she was not alone,
but accompanied by some little black creature, which, immediately she
came under the gas-lamp, she found was a poor little stray kitten.  As
this wee puss bounded into the house as soon as the door was opened, of
course she believed it belonged to the house.  Going to her bedroom to
dress for dinner, there was little Miss Puss sitting on the bed singing,
and apparently perfectly satisfied with her new quarters, for the lady
soon found it did not belong to the house.

Pussy was treated to a saucerful of milk, and then sent adrift out into
the street, chased out with a broom, in fact, for the housemaid hated
cats.  This kitten didn't mean to be put off like this, however.  She
stopped out all night, certainly, but quietly came in with the charwoman
at five o'clock in the morning, and came directly to my friend's
bedroom.  There is no getting rid of a cat when it once concludes to
board itself upon you, and this little waif soon established herself for
good at Ashburnham House.  But here is the strange part of the business.
She seemed to know that my friend Mrs W. was only a visitor here, and
constantly showed great discretion, by sticking close to her apartments
and back-yard.  Just once she ventured down to the kitchen, and the old
residential cat bit a piece out of her ear.  "If that is how you treat
visitors," said kitty, "I'll stick to my own rooms in future."  And so
she did.

It is sometimes rather a difficult thing finding suitable apartments
when you are accompanied with pets.  It takes considerable tact, I can
assure you, to convince Mrs 'Arris, or whatever is the name of your
intended landlady, that your Newfoundland is so clean that you never can
see even a hair on the carpet; that your Pomeranian is an angel in
canine form; that your Persian cat wouldn't steal, if surrounded even by
the most tempting viands; that your macaw doesn't scream loud enough to
give all the terrace "an 'eadache;" and that your white rats never
escape and run all over the house.  Mrs W. had some difficulty about
her kitten when she went to the lodgings she had taken at Norwood.

"I certainly did expect," her landlady observed, "a lady with birds, and
a mouse, and a very large dog; but a cat I couldn't have, because I've
one of my own."

Mrs W. of course promised all sorts of impossibilities regarding her
pet, and her landlady finally gave in.

But, strange to say, this very house became the kitten's future home,
for the landlady's grandchild struck up a friendship with the wee pussy,
and when the child fell sick, the kitten would hardly ever leave her
little crib, nor would the child bear Miss Brighton, as she called her
feline favourite, out of her sight for a single moment.  Who shall say
how far the simple companionship, of this loving and affectionate wee
kitten, might not have tended to the child's restoration to perfect



There is hardly a domestic animal we possess that is not fond, to a
greater or less extent, of children.  How carefully a horse will pick
his steps if a child happens to fall amongst his feet!  I saw a bull one
day escape, wounded and furious, from a killing-house, and dash madly
along the turnpike road.  He knocked down and injured several people,
who could not get quickly enough out of his way; then there stood,
paralysed with fear, and right in the wild brute's path, a child of
tender years, which everyone who saw it gave up for lost; but the bull,
who did not hesitate to attack grown-up people, suddenly veered to one
side, and left this child unhurt!

My large Newfoundland dog is in the habit of careering along the street
with a speed which, considering his size, is quite incompatible with the
safety of the lieges.  Policemen, especially, very often find themselves
in the line of his rush, and Nero never hesitates to run clean through
these men, so to speak, leaving them sprawling on the ground with heels
in air; but the other day this dog, on suddenly rounding a corner, found
himself confronted with four little toddling infants, who, hand in hand,
were coming along the pavement.  There was no time to slacken speed, and
to proceed was certain death to one or more of the poor children, and
what do you think this noble fellow did? why lifted himself clean off
the pavement, and sprang high and clear over their heads.

The same dog was once in a hotel, when a friend of mine offered him a
biscuit.  Master Nero wasn't hungry; he would neither eat the biscuit
from my friend's hand nor from my own, but when the landlord's pretty
little daughter came running in, and threw her arms about his neck, and
caressed him, he hadn't the heart to refuse the biscuit from _her_
hands, and even accepted several from her, although still refusing them
from us.

But the domestic cat is, _par excellence_, the playmate and friend of
childhood.  What is it, indeed, that pussy will not bear from the hands
of its little child-mistress?  She may pull and lug pussy about any way
she pleases, or walk up and down the garden-walk with it slung over her
shoulder by the tail.  If such treatment does hurt the poor cat, she
takes good care not to show it.  It is amusing enough sometimes to watch
a little girl making a baby of her favourite pussy.  They are wearied
with gambolling together on the flowery lawn, and playing at
hide-and-seek among the shrubbery, and pussy "_must_ be tired," says
little Alice.  Pussy enters into the joke at once, and seems positively
dead beat; so the basket is brought, the little night-cap is put on, the
shawl is carefully pinned around its shoulders, and this embryo mamma
puts her feline baby to bed and bids it sleep.  There is always two
words, however, with pussy as regards the sleeping part of the contract,
for little Alice never can get her baby to close more than one eye at a
time.  Pussy must see what is going on.  Anon the baby "must be sick,"
and pussy forthwith appears as if she couldn't possibly survive another
hour.  Bread pills are manufactured, and forced over the poor cat's
throat, she barely resisting.  Then lullabies, low and sweet, are sung
to her, which pussy enjoys immensely, and presently, joining in the song
herself, goes off to sleep in earnest.

And Alice, pussy's friend, although at times she may use the furry
favourite rather roughly, is kind to her in the main.  Doesn't pussy get
a share of Alice's porridge every morning? doesn't she sup with Alice
every night? and do you think for one moment Alice would go to bed
without her?  Not she.  And still this cat, may be as savage as a she
tiger, to every one else in the house save to her little mistress.  Just
let you or me, reader, attempt to hold her up by the tail--well, I would
a hundred times rather you should try it than I.

The very fact, I think, that faithful pussy is so fond of our innocent
children, and so patient and self-denying towards them, is one reason
why we should be kind to her, and study her comforts a little more than
we do.

But probably one of the most endearing traits in the character of the
domestic cat is her extreme attachment to, and love for, the person who
owns her.  If you once get your cat to really love you, no matter how
fond she may be of the home where she was born and reared, she will go
with you, if you but say the word, to the uttermost parts of the earth.
My poor old favourite, Muffle, has travelled many, many thousands of
miles with me by sea and land, and always watched over both me and my
property _with all the care_ and fidelity of a Highland collie.  Been
lost, too, she has, many a time in the midst of big bustling cities
which were quite strange to her--been lost, but always turned up again.

I know of many instances in which cats have so attached themselves to
their owners, that, when the latter have died, they have refused all
food, and in a few days succumbed to grief, and gone, I fondly hope, to
meet the loved one in a world that's free of care.

"But the largest cat," writes one of my numerous correspondents, "I ever
saw belonged to my mother's mother, and was wise and sedate in
proportion to its size.  Its good mistress was often distressed with
palpitation of the heart, and during the silent hours of night paced the
bedroom floor in pain--but not alone, for the faithful creature would
walk slowly at her side, seeming by his look to pity her condition, and
when she lay down he would still stand sentinel at her head.  He never
could be persuaded to leave the house while she lived, yet a few hours
before her death he suddenly took flight, but only to the lower
apartments, which my parents occupied, and from which he never stirred

I never think, somehow, that a fireside has the same cheerful look of an
evening unless there be a cat there, to sit on the footstool, and sing
duets with the tea-kettle.

And I do not wonder at old women, whose friends have all long since gone
before, and who have no one left to care for them, getting greatly
attached to a faithful pussy; for people must have something to love.

"But, fancy loving a cat!"  I think I hear some churl remark.

Yes, cynical reader, and I have, myself, before now, often shared my
heart with stranger pets than cats; and I don't mind betting you that
what I have left of it is bigger than yours now.

Figuratively speaking, I think a man's or a woman's heart is like a
blacksmith's arm--_it grows with use_.



At nearly all the cat-shows which I have visited of late, I have been
invariably impressed with this one idea: here, in these shows, we see
pussy as she is in the present day--the live mouse-trap, the barn cat,
at best the fireside favourite--but, at all events, the animal, of all
our domestic animals, that is least cared for, and the only animal we
possess, whose improvement in condition and species we have never cared
to study.  What this animal--the domestic cat--can become, the
perfection to which she may attain through judicious selection and
careful breeding, it is for future years to show.

Other nations--such as the Persians and different other Asiatics--know
far more about the domestic cat than we do, and quite put us to the
blush with their splendidly-bred and high-blooded animals.

It is one of the many popular fallacies current in this enlightened land
of ours, that there is in the cat a certain number of bad qualities--a
certain spice of the devil, so to speak--that never can be bred out.
This is simply absurd, for there is no animal that lives and breathes on
God's fair earth but is susceptible of improvement, both physically and
morally; for, remember, a cat, little as you may think of her, has a
mind _and a soul_, as well as you have.  She has thought, and memory,
and reasoning powers; she can love and she can fear, can be happy and
gay, or sad and sorrowful, and she knows something too of the mystery of

With all these qualities will you tell me that she cannot be improved?
I say she can; even as to race; for what can be accomplished with
individual cats, may be accomplished with the whole race.  I can
introduce you to dozens of cat-fanciers in this country, who have made
the peculiarities of pussy's nature their study, and who find that they
can, at will, not only improve the physical condition of their cats; but
even, by careful training, occasional gentle correction, kindness, and
good-feeding, raise them from good to better, and wean them from the
ways which are so objectionable in other, or merely half-domesticated
cats.  And, look you, the progeny of such animals--by a law well-known
to all breeders--take after them, or inherit the good qualities of their
parents.  Hence, I repeat, if you can improve the individual cat,
through time you may improve the _genus_.  That time may be long in
coming--granted; but that the lovers of cats, in this country, have
boldly seized the bull by the horns, and are taking a step in the right
direction, is a positive fact which admits of no denial.

Now, to those who are fond of cats, and would fain improve the
particular breed they have a fancy for, and probably win prizes at our
great shows, I beg to offer the following hints:--

_First_.  Having made up your mind as to what particular breed you mean
to go in for, stick by that breed for a time, at least, and go in for no

_Secondly_.  Be careful in your selection of parents.  For instance: we
will suppose you mean to breed pure white Angoras; well, purchase at a
first-class show a Tom kitten and a queen kitten _from different
litters_.  Choose the liveliest, biggest, and most healthy-looking
kitten of each litter, not, as in choosing pups, the heaviest and
sleepiest-looking.  The funny kitten turns out the best cat, and is more
easily trained than a sulky or frightened one.

Having gotten your purchases home, remember that the royal road to a
kitten's affection is straight through its stomach.  Be, yourself, then,
the first to present pussy with a saucer of warm, creamy milk.

_Thirdly.  How to get size_.  This is accomplished by the quantity and
quality of pussy's food, and the regularity with which she gets her
meals.  Whatever you give a young cat, and a growing cat to eat, do not
let it be too abundant.  Never let her gorge herself; give her little
and often.  Don't let her want for a saucerful of pure water, to which
she can always find access.  Let her allowance of milk be put down to
her and taken up again when she has had all she wants; what she leaves
had better be given to the pigs.  Bad milk is a fruitful source of
diarrhoea, dysentery, and some forms of skin disease.  A little
sulphur--about as much as will lie on a fourpenny-bit--should be given
at least once a fortnight, or half that quantity once a week.

Train your cats early to habits of cleanliness.  Don't forget the
flower-pot saucer; and remember that, if the cats you wish to take
prizes with, belong to any of the finer breeds, they _must_ be parlour
cats, and not kitchen-bred brutes.

If you want your cats to grow large, let their food be nourishing but
not stimulating; boiled cow's or sheep's lights they can eat their
stomachs full of; but avoid beef, it is too gross and heating, and don't
patronise the cat's-meat man.

Kittens and growing cats, in order to grow large, must have plenty of
exercise and fun.  Leaping exercise is best.  Teach them to jump through
a hoop, and keep them at it.  They ought to have a ball as a toy, or a
hare's foot; and ridiculous as it may seem to many, it is a positive
fact, that cats--especially queen cats--thrive best who have a
looking-glass conveniently placed to admire themselves in, and to wash
and dress in front of.

"Ilka little maks a mickle," is a good old Scotch proverb, and believe
me it is attention to little matters, to minutiae, which makes one
successful in properly rearing any animal.

_Fourthly.  How to get Good Pelage on a Cat_.  The feeding of course has
much to do with the length and gloss of the coat.  Fish I have found is
good for the coat, and a mixed diet generally, with not too much
vegetables to scour them.  But your sheet-anchors, after all, are the
brush and the comb.  The comb must be fine, and not too close in the
teeth, and it should be used gently, after which brush the coat briskly
all over with a long-haired soft hair-brush--a baby's brush in fact.
The comb is not only a gentle stimulant to the skin, but it prevents
matting, while the brush removes dust, and gives a nice glitter to the
pelage.  Both together act as a charm.

_Fifthly_.  In cats other than white you will find that certain kinds of
food strengthen the colours of the pelage.  I am convinced, for
instance, that boiled bullock's lights do, and so does sheep's blood.
This fact is perhaps worth knowing.  I am making experiments with other
foods and some condiments, but am not yet in a position to state

_Sixthly.  Breeding for colour_.  No matter what colour your parent cats
are, you will occasionally find waifs and strays in a litter that you
will wonder to find of a different colour.  But do not be discouraged;
stick only to the true colours, and you will find in time that such
anomalies will become few and far between.  Be careful to avoid the
possibility of any litter of kittens having more than one father.

_Seventhly_.  In young cats, which you are breeding to take prizes with,
begin to look out for symptoms of the queen's getting gay, any time
after six months, and on the first signs lock her up for a week, or
until she becomes herself again.  Do not think of breeding from a cat
you mean for the show-bench until she is at least eighteen months old,
else you will spoil her for size.

Some people fancy that to manage cats properly, and guide their breeding
to the Tom you desire them to, is very difficult.  I have not found it
so.  There is a little trouble, certainly, but you are amply rewarded,
when you find on the birth of the kittens that you have been successful.
The only thing you've got to do, is to watch the queen well, and lock
her up for a night or two with her own lord in an outhouse.  Then
afterwards keep her prisoner by herself for ten days.  The danger is
quite past then.

_Eighthly_.  About a week before any important show, be more than
usually careful with the grooming, etc, of your cats, and feed them up a
bit; give them an extra allowance of milk and cream, and boiled rice and
sugar, and occasionally mutton and mutton-broth, but take great care not
to induce diarrhoea.

_Ninthly_.  Send them to the show in a basket lined with flannel and a
cushion, and pretty collar or ribbon to match the colour of the coat.
Let the colour of the cushion be also effective, and in keeping with
pussy's jacket.

As to cat-shows themselves, I have nothing but good to say.  All
prosperity to their promoters and patrons!  They are in general, indeed
almost invariably, well managed, and the cats are carefully caged,
properly tended and fed, and no lady need apprehend the slightest danger
to her feline favourite, in being sent to any of our great shows.  It is
seldom, if ever, that a cat is lost, the baskets containing the pussies
never being opened, until inside the building, and then only with the
greatest care.  Indeed, one needs to be pretty cautious in handling a
strange cat.  Your well-bred beauties, in particular, make it a rule to
stand no nonsense.

The cats are fed morning and night, and regularly supplied with the best
and sweetest milk which the town can afford.  Indeed, altogether, the
poor things appear quite as happy as they are at their own firesides.
If it is a four-day show, they soon come to know and welcome with gloved
hand, the girl attendants every time they pass.  There is no
head-splitting noise and din as there is in a dog-show.  Peace and quiet
and serenity reign everywhere in a cat-show.

At nearly all the shows--at all events at all the _great_ shows--Mr
Sillet, the well-known naturalist of Southampton, has the arrangement of
the pens or cages for the pussies.  And very well he does his work too.
Every cage is supplied with a box for sand at the back, and in the fore
part with a beautiful soft cushion.  The boxes are emptied daily, and
disinfectants are also used, so that everything is sweet and clean.  The
entries at some of our national shows, such as the Crystal Palace and
Birmingham, number between three and four hundred, and every year I
trust the numbers will be increased.

You see then, reader, that no danger can accrue from sending your feline
favourite to a show, and I may tell you also that if she is anything
like good at all, she is almost sure of finding herself placed.
Cat-shows are only in their infancy, and anyone who _chances_ to have a
good cat, may nowadays take prizes.  In future years, there will be no
chance work about the matter at all, and those only who study the
breeding and rearing of cats in a scientific and sensible manner will be
the winners.

When you send your entry form up to the secretary, be careful you have
placed your pussy in the right class, not only as to breed but as to
sex, whether male, female, or gelded.  As to breed, you must attend to
the colour and also to the length of the coat.

There are classes for all kinds of cats, and a class for anomalies

I am often sorry, when judging at shows, to have to disqualify many a
beautiful specimen of the feline race, because it has been carelessly
entered in a wrong class.  If people only will read with some degree of
attention the description of each class, given in the schedules, they
need never make this mistake.

To such clever and energetic managers of shows as Mr Wilson, of the
Crystal Palace, who seems to have adopted the motto of the Cameron clan,
"Whatever a man dares he can do," or sensible Mr Chaplin, of
Birmingham, or Mr Brown, of Edinburgh, or Mr Martin, of Glasgow, I
have positively nothing to suggest.  Let anyone who wants to get up a
cat-show take a lesson out of the books of either.

To amateur managers I may say this: Be very tender and gentle with the
feline property entrusted to your care; remember not only that cats are
extremely nervous and sensitive creatures, but also that numbers of them
have a value in the eyes of their owners far above money and above

Feed with Spratt's Patent Cat Food.  This ought to be used at all shows;
it has the advantage of being cleanly, handy, and wholesome.  A small
allowance of boiled lights may be added.

Use chloride of lime, not too much of it, as a disinfectant.

Fill the utility boxes with plain garden mould or sand, but _never put
charcoal in it_.  That soils the fur, and doesn't give a white cat the
chance of looking well.

_Never put sawdust in a cat's cage_.  It gets into the milk and spoils
it, and if they lick it it will make them ill.

Do not receive a cat that is suffering from illness of any sort.

If a cat should appear to be ill any time during the exhibition, have
her carefully removed and sent home.

Finally, if possible, have beautifully ornamented prize cards, and send
them home neat and clean to the successful exhibitors.  These cards are
greatly valued, and generally framed and hung in a conspicuous place.

No one, except the initiated, can have any idea what an important little
creature a cat becomes that has once taken a prize.  She is then more
than ever the valued pet of her owners, and an object of interest even
to the neighbours.



  "He prayeth well, who loveth well,
      Both man, and bird, and beast;
  He prayeth best, who loveth best,
      All things both great and small,
  For the dear God who loveth us,
      He made and loveth all."


I am fond of cats, and am never happier than when I am writing about
them; nevertheless, it is with feelings the very reverse of pleasant
that I commence the present chapter.  Were I to consult my own comfort,
I should avoid the subject of cruelty to cats, and it is only with the
hope, that I may be the means of doing some little good to poor harmless
pussy, that I approach the matter at all.

I am not a sentimentalist by any means, yet I abominate wanton cruelty.
I am fond of animals, yet not maudlinly so.  I am not a vegetarian; and,
although I neither believe that all animals were made for man's use, nor
that man was made for theirs (as, you remember, was the opinion of the
pampered goose), still I think we are right to kill and to use them as
food.  So I am fond of fishing, and fond too of shooting, and I can see
nothing in the Bible against either practice.  The very reverse, indeed,
and everywhere in nature we observe that God permits one animal to prey
upon another; and can the Lord Himself do wrong?

Yet, albeit I love sport and shooting, I do not think I am cruel.  All
my animals love me.  My fishes know me, and come to be fed; my birds
flutter their wings with affectionate excitement when I approach their
cage; my white rats run to me when I call; my cat certainly never rushes
up the chimney when I enter the room; and when I am dead I know my dogs
will miss me.

Now, what I particularly object to is wanton and unnecessary cruelty.
If we have to, and must, put the lower animals to death, in order that
we--the higher animals--may live, we ought to do so as humanely as
possible; and never, on any account, should we torture animals for mere
sport.  Hence I object to cock-fighting, pigeon or sparrow-shooting, and
ratting--all mean and cowardly employments, and quite unfitted for men
above the rank of the commonest navvy.  I see no harm in deer-stalking
in Scotland, where the deer are as wild as the hare or coney; but I do
see very great cruelty in what is called stag-hunting in England.  The
stag in England is a domesticated animal, and I do not see that there is
greater pluck or courage needed in hunting it, than there would be in
chasing a decent old Alderney cow.  I had travelled pretty nearly all
over the world, and had shot in Africa, India, and Greenland, before I
witnessed the first English stag-hunt.  If my sympathies had not been
all with the poor stag, I should have been highly amused indeed.  The
first stag wouldn't move at all; he looked upon the matter as too good a
joke.  "No, beggar me," he seemed to say, "if I'll budge an inch, to
please anybody!"  And he didn't.  Yet this stag-hunting, they will tell
you, seriously, keeps up the national courage.  Believe me, reader,
English courage requires no such keeping up, and it will be a poor day
for this country when it does.  Besides, it is only gentlemen (?) who
hunt; and, well as our army is officered, it is, after all, the men who
do the fighting; and it has always struck me that good beef and mutton,
together with a determination to do their duty, are the mainstays on
which our soldiers depend in the day of battle.

A great deal, I think, of the cruelty which is inflicted on the poor
cat, is done through ignorance of pussy's nature and constitution; done
unwittingly, and with no real intention of doing the animal an injury.

It is very cruel indeed to starve the creature, with the idea that you
will induce her to catch more mice.  When a cat is hungry the system is
weak, the mind is dull, and the nerves so far from being well-strung
that she will do anything sooner than hunt.  A well-filled stomach gives
pussy patience, and that is much wanted for mouse-killing; besides, you
must not forget that cats kill mice as much for the sport as anything

Another very common form of cruelty is that of turning the cat out every
night.  Cats need their comforts, and enjoy them too, more than any
other domestic animal we possess.  Leaving her out at night not only
exposes her to colds, inflammations, and various diseases, but it leads
her to contract bad habits; and she eventually gets trapped or killed,
and no wonder; is she not, through your carelessness, a nuisance to the
whole neighbourhood?

It is cruel not to feed your cats with regularity.  They expect it, and
need it; and, if they do not get it, what else can you expect but that
your cat will become a thief?

What is called "wandering" cats is extremely cruel.  A man has no
further use for his cat, so he "wanders" her.  I assure you it would be
far more humane to drown her at once.  How would you, yourself, like to
be wandered--to be taken abroad somewhere, and placed down in the centre
of savages; hungry and cold, and longing and pining for the home you
left behind you; and in danger every moment of being cruelly slain?
Don't you think that speedy dissolution were more to be desired than
such a life?

It is cruel, when your cat has kittens, to permit more to live than you
can find decent homes for.  It is a shame to a poor little kit, after it
has opened its eyes to the wonders all around it, and begun to get happy
and funny.  Always keep one or two kittens for sake of the mother, and
try, if possible, to find some one to take them.  But the worst form of
unintentional cruelty is that of leaving your poor favourite at home,
when you go to the seaside, or to summer quarters.  Often and often, on
the return of the family, the unhappy cat is found lying in the empty
hall, dead or dying, and wasted away to a mere handful of bones and
skin--this in itself testifying to the sufferings she must have
undergone for the want of food and water.  Such gross _carelessness
ought to be made penal_.  I do not know whether the Society has ever yet
prosecuted anyone for thus cruelly starving a cat, but I should think it
would have little difficulty in obtaining a conviction.

I come now to mention some cases of intentional and specific cruelty,
and shall be as brief as possible.

Some men, both young and old, think that a cat is a fit subject for
torture and cruelty of all kinds; hence they never miss the chance of
shying a stone after pussy's retreating figure.  Cases, too, are
continually cropping up in the police courts, of men having tortured
cats to the death with dogs.

Cat skins are considered of some value by the furriers.  At a sale not
long since in London, there were some three thousand cat skins.  Where
think you, reader, do these come from?  That is a question unfortunately
only too easily answered.  In almost all large cities there exists a
gang of ruffians--you cannot call them by a milder name--who eke out a
sort of livelihood by stealing cats by every available means and method.
But worse than this remains to be told; it is darkly whispered, and I
have some reason to believe it may be but too true, that many of those
poor cats are _skinned alive_, in the belief that the living skin thus
procured retains the gloss.

In Greenland I have seen young seals flayed alive by the score.  That
was a sickening sight enough, but skinning alive a poor harmless cat
must be many times worse.  I wish I could say that it was only the
lowest class of ruffians that ill-treat poor cats to the death, but--and
I know this for certain--there are men who pass as gentlemen, who night
after night set traps for cats that stray into their gardens, and kill
them in the cruellest manner; and some of these fellows, too, keep
neither poultry, pigeons, nor rabbits, and haven't a flower in their
gardens worthy of the name, only _they hate cats_.  I know one gentleman
(?) who thus traps and kills cats because he has a passion for fur rugs,
which he thus indulges on the cheap.

Little boys, and those too, sometimes the sons of respectable parents
who ought to have taught them better, are often dreadfully cruel to
cats, stoning them wherever found, and setting dogs to worry them to

A lady, a friend of mine, once attracted by the heartrending cries of a
cat, found two young fiends, with a pretty pussy tied in an apron,
gouging its eyes out with a nail!

A common form of cruelty to cats, in some rural districts of England, is
that of tying two of them together by the tails and hanging them over a
rope or pole to fight to the death.

Such cases as that of cutting cats' tails off for wanton mischief,
burning or boiling cats alive, though not unknown, I am happy to say are
very rare.

Now, considering how very useful an animal a cat is, I think it is high
time the law interfered to protect her from violence and ill-usage.

I should like to see a tax imposed upon all cats, and a home for lost
cats, precisely on the same principles as the home for lost and starving
dogs, only with this difference, that there should be no reward offered
for bringing a cat to the home.  Remember this, that a stranger or
starving cat will come to anyone who says a kind word to it, so
policemen would have no difficulty in catching them.

The revenue from the imposition of even a small tax would be very large,
and it would not only help to clear the country of a whole army corps of
thieving, prowling, homeless cats, but give to the cats of respectable
people a greater value in the eyes of the law, and a greater chance of
taking their walks abroad without being molested.

We have a law to protect even our wild birds, why not one for the
protection of my friend the harmless, useful cat?

In conclusion, let me assure lovers and owners of cats, that, as the law
stands at present, the only way to keep their favourites alive, and free
from danger, is to be kind to them, feed them well and teach them, as
far as possible, to keep to the house at night.

We think that men who kill, and trap, and injure our cats are
exceedingly cruel.  And so they are, and I hope they will in time learn
to be a shade more merciful.  At the same time, don't forget that the
temptation to take revenge upon a cat for vines destroyed, beautiful
flowerbeds torn up, favourite rabbits murdered in their hutches, and
valuable pigeons torn and eaten in their dovecots, is a very great
temptation indeed.  You see, reader, there are two sides to every

Pray think of the matter.



When I was a boy, it used to be a positive pain to me to have to enter a
large library and choose a book.  I used to wander round and round the
well-filled shelves like a butterfly floating over a clover-field.  I
didn't know where to alight.  I would fain have begun at the beginning,
and read the lot--but that was impracticable.  Hence my difficulty.  I
am in a somewhat similar fix now.  I have so many original anecdotes of
cat life and customs that I don't know which to tell.

If I had space at command you should have the whole lot, and I would
arrange them into classes according to their character; as it is, I must
be content to present the reader with some account of a few of pussy's
tricks and manners, deduced from these and from my own rather large
experience of cat life.

Every child knows how fond cats are of hunting and catching mice, but no
cat of any respectability would think of confining her attentions to
mice alone.  The very presence of a cat about a house will usually
suffice to keep these destructive pests at bay; and if one should pop
out of its hole, it knows, or ought to know, what to expect.  But seldom
will a high-bred cat condescend to eat a mouse.  She will play with it
as long as hope keeps up its little heart; when that fails it, pussy
turns it over once or twice to see whether it is really dead or only
shamming, and then walks disdainfully away.  The next higher game is
rats, but these she seldom cares to eat, only she kills them on the
spot.  She knows that rats have teeth and can use them, so she doesn't
romp with them.  I have known rats inflict such severe wounds upon a cat
that they ultimately proved fatal.

Cats delight to spend a day in the woods, bird-catching.  They rob the
nests, too, when they find any, and cases have occurred of a cat paying
visits to nests day after day until the young were hatched, then eating
them.  (I once had a blackbird's nest in the side of a bank at the
roadside--a strange place for a blackbird to build.  I often used to see
a polecat close to, and I am convinced it knew of the nest, but it never
robbed it until the young were hatched.)

Nearly all cats who live in the country hunt over the hills and the
woods, and a great plague, too, gamekeepers find them.  There is no
animal which a cat may meet in the covers that she is not a match for.
Polecats and weasels have to own her sway, while rabbits and leverets
fall an easy prey to her prowess.

Most cats, who are well treated by their owners, have a habit of
bringing everything home which they catch.  I have often seen a cat come
trotting homewards, carrying in its mouth a rabbit well-nigh as big as

Cats may therefore be called poachers; and it is curious, but true, that
when a poor man owns a cat who poaches, and brings home the quarry, he
usually winks at it.

I have dozens of well-authenticated anecdotes of cats who are very
expert at fishing.  I have, myself, watched a cat by the banks of a
stream, until I have seen him dive into the water, and emerge almost
immediately with a large trout in his mouth.  Cats who fish, generally
belong to millers, or are bred and reared somewhere near a river.  They
not only catch fish of all sorts, but even water-rats; often springing
many feet off the bank after prey of this kind, and even diving under to
secure it.  In Scotland cats often attack and destroy large quantities
of salmon in small streams, in the spawning season.

Cats are supposed to have an antipathy to water, and, as a rule, this is
so.  They are very cleanly animals, and it has often amused me to watch
a pussy crossing a muddy street.  How eagerly she looks out for the dry
spots, how gingerly she picks her steps, and, when she does tread in a
pool, with what an air of supreme disgust she stops and shakes the
offending foot!

Cats swim well, nevertheless.  I have seen a cat take the water as
coolly as an Irish spaniel, swim the river, hunt in the woods for some
time, and then swim back again with a bird in her mouth.  And, to save
their kittens from drowning, almost any cat will swim a long distance.

I have known a cat whose favourite fish was the eel, and he always
managed to catch one somehow.

Cats are very fanciful at times, and very self-opinionated.  If a cat
takes a fancy to a particular house, or part of the house, it is
difficult to dislodge her.

"In the year 1852," a lady writes me, "my mother was living with a
family in the Albany Road, Camberwell, who had a large tabby Tom cat.
This cat had formed a strong attachment to a kitten who belonged to the
lady next door.  In 1853, the family removed to the Ashby Road, Lower
Road, Islington, and the cat was _packed in a hamper_, and sent with the

"It was kept in confinement the first day and night, and let out the
next morning.  Tabby had his feet buttered, to keep him employed, as
they said it was a good thing to keep him busy.  The next day he had
disappeared, no one knew whither, though search was made for him

"A few days after, the lady from Camberwell wrote to say that Tabby had
put in an appearance there, and resumed the charge of his kitten.  He
was sent back by the carrier to his proper owner, and every means was
tried to induce him to stop; but he returned the second time to the
kitten, and so they let him remain, because they knew he would be well
taken care of.  The wonderment of this was: _which bridge did he go over
in passing through busy London_?"

It is really wonderful how a cat can often find its way, long distances
across a country which he never before may have traversed.

"A few days ago," says another correspondent, "a lady who lives in
Newport told me that, at one time, her house was quite overrun with
mice; and, having procured the loan of a cat which was considered a good
mouser, she tied it into a basket, and then placed it in a concealed
part of the pony carriage.  On her arrival at the `Cliff' the prisoner
was released; but even the prospect of a delicious feast of mice could
not obliterate its thoughts of `home, sweet home;' and, after about an
hour's stay, it set off, and, ere long, arrived at its former abode--
distant three miles!"

Some months ago, a half-bred Persian tabby, came to my place, and has
since then stuck to it with all the persistency of Edgar Allan Poe's
raven.  He is a cat that seems to have nothing to recommend him; if he
would come into the house, and behave like a civilised being, I would
never grudge him his daily dole.  But he prefers to live a half-pagan
existence, out among the bushes, and take his nap of a night in the
coal-house; and Bridget says he is an awful thief, and that she can't
leave the kitchen-door open one moment for fear of him.  I've often
asked that cat to take his departure, but, as plain as cat can speak,
that cat says "never more."

By way of experiment I have caught him several times--no easy task, I
assure you--and _sent him_, securely packed in a hamper, distances of
three, four, and five miles to friends who have set him free.  And he
always came back.  His last journey was at Christmas-time--may Heaven
forgive me this sin!--to the house of a parson _whom I did not know_,
and I stuck some pheasants' feathers too just under the lid.  I don't
know what the parson thought, but Tom came back next day, not looking a
single bit put out, and--I am willing to sell him to anyone who may have
need of his services.

I know a cat who caught two sparrows at once, and when retreating, a
third sparrow pursued and attacked him.  This one pussy also killed,
with his paw.  That was funny!

Cats know certain days of the week, such as Sunday for instance, and
they also know certain hours of each day.  I don't mean to say they look
at the clock, but, if a favourite master or mistress is in the habit of
coming home every day, say at 4 p.m., there you will often find that
every day at 4 p.m. pussy will trot down the road to meet her and wait
till she comes.

Cats make good husbands, gentle fathers, and the most tender and loving
of mothers.  A cat will fight for her kittens, starve or _steal_ for
them.  Oh!  I daresay you imagine that stealing wouldn't be likely to
lie very heavily on a cat's conscience.  Now listen to this--which the
printer will kindly put in italics--_all experience goes to prove that
well-fed, properly cared-for cats, are not thieves, but the reverse_.

Cats have their kittens in queer places, at times.  A lady's best Sunday
bonnet, or master's wig, or a set of ermine furs, just suits pussy to a
nicety.  My cat once kittened in my cocked hat.  It is a positive fact,
madam, and so far from thinking she had done anything to offend me, she
held up one of her brats for me to admire.  But the queerest place for a
cat to kitten in, that ever I knew, was a tree.  The cat scrambled up
the tree and brought forth her young in the nest of a wood-pigeon!  I
didn't hear how the kittens got down again though, but I have every
reason to believe the story.  Probably, when the kittens opened their
eyes they commenced playing with their mother's tail, and went
topsy-turvy to the ground.  Well, _facilis descensus Averni_, and you
know cats always fall on their feet.  I knew a man who kicked his own
cat out of his pigeon loft, three storeys high.  He told me it didn't
seem to hurt her a bit, but rather increased her appetite.

Whether cats have nine lives or not, they take a great deal of killing.

I knew a cat that was drowned four times, and came home again as
unconcernedly as if nothing very unusual had happened.  However,
drowning in the end seemed to get rather irksome to this pussy, and
after the fourth immersion, he ran away to the woods, and didn't come
back to be drowned any more.

Many cases I know of parties having started off with puss in a bag to
drown her, and having stopped to talk to a friend on the way back found,
on their return, the cat sitting by the fire drying herself!  I have
many instances of cats having been thrown from bridges and other high
places, with the intention of killing them, but without fatal effect.

Cats have been buried alive for days and recovered after being dug up.
A cat of my acquaintance was sent to live at a mill.  This seemed to
please pussy very much.  You see there were plenty of mice in the mill,
and plenty of rats and fish in the mill-lead, so the cat made herself at
home.  But in course of time pussy became the mother of two kittens, and
then the longing for her old home came back with a force too powerful to
be resisted.  She determined, therefore, to return to her former
residence, and she did so, carrying her kittens one by one.  The
distance she had to travel was two miles, and the night she chose was a
dark and stormy one.

There were two cats who dwelt at the self-same house and had kittens at
the self-same time.  All the kittens were drowned with the exception of
two, one being left with each mother.  And now comes the curious part of
the business.  These two mother-cats came to an amicable understanding,
that whenever the one was abroad the other should suckle and attend to
both babies, and this treaty was carried out to the letter.

Cats are not only fond of human beings, but often get greatly attached
to other domestic animals, especially to the family dog.  I know at this
moment a cat whose constant companion is a Dandy Dinmont; and a rough
one he is too, for, although he sleeps in pussy's arms every night, he
thinks nothing of pulling her all round the lawn by the tail at any
time, the cat herself seeming to enjoy the fun!

Rabbits and cats often associate together on the most friendly terms,
even accompanying each other in long excursions, the cat on these
occasions electing herself protector of her feebler friend against
predatory dogs and other cats.

A cat belonging to a friend of mine used to be constantly at war with
the dog, until one day, with a blow of her ungloved paw, she blinded the
poor animal in one eye.  No mother could have been kinder to her child
than pussy was to this dog, after she saw what she had done.  That she
bitterly repented the rash act is evident, for she watched beside him
night and day, until he grew well again; and now, they are the fastest
friends in the world, and the cat is the first to welcome the dog home
when he returns from a walk.

As a proof of how cruel it is to take _all_ a cat's kittens away from
her, I may state that, thus bereaved, a cat will take to nursing even
chickens, or she will suckle puppies, hedgehogs, or rats.

It is a funny thing that many cats can't bear music.  Some will run out
of the room if they hear a fiddle played, and others will growl and
attack the musician.

Cats can be easily taught to follow one in a country walk just like a
dog, and on these occasions they come much better to the sound of
whistling than to any other call.

A well-bred cat will always teach its kittens habits of cleanliness, how
to watch for and catch mice, and also how to catch minnows in a shallow

I have already said that cats, as a rule, when well treated, are not
thieves, but the very reverse.  But when a cat does take to thieving for
a livelihood, she becomes quite a swell at it--shows how clever she is.

Cats are considered in some parts of England to be of some value as an
article of diet.  I have never to my knowledge eaten cat, so I cannot
give the reader any idea what they taste like.

It is ridiculous to suppose, as some do, that a cat's breath has any
effect upon a baby either for good or for evil.  Neither will a cat
bring blood from a child's temple by licking it with its rough tongue.

An ugly old woman isn't necessarily a witch because she keeps a black
cat.  Neither is a black cat a devil.

They say that witches sail over the sea in riddles accompanied by their
black cats, and that they have rather a jolly time of it upon the whole,
having plenty to eat, and plenty to drink--flagons of wine, in fact.
Don't you believe it, reader.

Cats are not afraid of snakes; but snakes, even the dreaded cobra, will
invariably give pussy a wide berth.

Cats are fond of fish, absurdly so, and if you offer them even the
gold-fish, they won't feel offended.  It is only out of respect for the
owner thereof that they don't devour the canary.  They prefer canary
living, with the feathers on.  It tickles their palates and makes them

Chickens are dainties in a cat's _cuisine_; they also rather like a nice
plump partridge, and won't refuse to suck an egg when occasion offers.

Cats are, as a rule, Good Templars; the proof of which rule is this: I
had a Red Tabby Tom who would eat oatmeal and whisky until he couldn't
stand.  The servants knew this failing, and encouraged him in his evil
ways; so that half his time, instead of being as sober as a judge--as
every decent, respectable cat ought--Tom was as drunk as a piper.

It is funny to listen to a cat's concert about two o'clock in the
morning.  Of course, if you are rather nervous, and want to go to sleep,
it isn't so funny.  (N.B.--If cats were better treated, they would hold
their concerts in daylight in the garden, instead of at midnight on the
tiles.  Mind you, there is something in that.)

Altogether, cats are funny things, and the more you study them the
funnier you find them.  That's so!



The lines of some cats fall in pleasant places.  Mine have.  I'm the
fireside favourite, I'm the parlour pet.  I'm the _beau ideal_, so my
mistress says, of what every decent, respectable, well-trained cat ought
to be--and I looked in the glass and found it so.  But pray don't think
that I am vain because I happen to know the usages of polite society,
and the uses and abuses of the looking-glass.  No cat, in my opinion,
with any claim to the dignity of lady-puss, would think of washing her
face unless in front of a plate-glass mirror.  But I will not soon
forget the day I first knew what a looking-glass meant.  I was then only
a cheeky little mite of a kitten, of a highly inquiring turn of mind.
Well, one evening my young mistress was going to a ball, and before she
went she spent about three hours in her dressing-room, doing something,
and then she came down to the parlour, looking more like an angel than
ever I had seen her.  Oh, how she was dressed, to be sure!  And she had
little bunches of flowers stuck on all over her dress, and I wanted to
play at "mousies" with them; but she wouldn't wait, she just kissed me
and bade me be a good kitten and not run up the curtains, and then off
she went.  Yes; I meant to be an awfully good little kitten--but first
and foremost I meant to see the interior of that mysterious room.  By
good luck the door was ajar, so in I popped at once, and made direct for
the table.  Such a display of beautiful things I had never seen before.
I didn't know what they all meant then, but I do now, for, mind you, I
will soon be twenty years of age.  But I got great fun on that table.  I
tried the gold rings on my nose, and the earrings on my toes, and I
knocked off the lid of a powder-box, and scattered the crimson contents
all abroad.  Then I had a fearful battle with a puff which I unearthed
from another box.  During the fight a bottle of ylang-ylang went down.
I didn't care a dump.  Crash went a bottle of fragrant floriline next.
I regarded it not.  I fought the puff till it took refuge on the floor.
Then I paused, wondering what I should do next, when behold! right in
front of me and looking through a square of glass, and apparently
wondering what _it_ should do next, was the ugliest little wretch of a
kitten ever you saw in your life--a long-nosed, blear-eyed,
pingey-wingey thing.  I marched up to it as brave as a button, and it
had the audacity to come and meet me.

"You ugly, deformed little beast," I cried, "what do you want in my
lady's room?"

"The same to you," it seemed to say, "and many of them."

"For two pins," I continued, "I would scratch your nasty little eyes

"Yah--fuss-s!" replied the foe, lifting its left paw as I lifted my

This was too much.  I crept round the corner to give her a cuff.  She
wasn't there!  I came back, and there she was as brazen as ever.  I
tried this game on several times, but couldn't catch her.  "Then," says
I, "you'll have it where you stand, and hang the pane of glass!"

I struck straight from the shoulder, and with a will too.  Down went the
glass, and I found I had been fighting all the time with my own shadow.
Funny, wasn't it?

When mistress came home there was such a row.  But she was sensible, and
didn't beat me.  She took me upstairs, and showed me what I had done,
and looked so vexed that I was sorry too.  "It is my own fault, though,"
she said; "I ought to have shut the door."

She presented me with a looking-glass soon after this, and it is quite
surprising how my opinion of that strange kitten in the mirror altered
after that.  I thought now I had never seen such a lovely thing, and I
was never tired looking at it.  No more I had.  But first impressions
_are_ so erroneous, you know.

My dear mother is dead and gone years ago--of course, considering my
age, you won't marvel at that; and my young mistress is married long,
long ago, and has a grown family, who are all as kind as kind can be to
old Tom, as they facetiously call me.  And so they were to my mother,
who, I may tell you, was only three days in her last illness, and gave
up the ghost on a file of old newspapers (than which nothing makes a
better bed) and is buried under the old pear-tree.

Dear me, how often I have wondered how other poor cats who have neither
kind master nor mistress manage to live.  But, the poor creatures, they
are _so_ ignorant--badly-bred, you know.  Why, only the other day the
young master brought home a poor little cat, he had found starving in
the street.  Well, I never in all my life saw such an ill-mannered, rude
little wretch, for no sooner had it got itself stuffed with the best
fare in the house, than it made a deliberate attempt to steal the
canary.  There was gratitude for you!  Now, mind, I don't say that _I_
shouldn't like to eat the canary, but I never have taken our own birds--
no--always the neighbours'.  I did, just once, fly at our own canary's
cage when I was quite a wee cat, and didn't know any better.  And what
do you think my mistress did?  Why, she took the bird out of the cage
and popped me in; and there I was, all day long, a prisoner, with
nothing for dinner but seeds and water, and the canary flying about the
room and doing what it liked, even helping itself to my milk.  I never
forgot that.

Some cats, you know, are arrant thieves, and I don't wonder at it, the
way they are kicked and cuffed about, put out all night, and never
offered food or water.  I would steal myself if I were used like that,
wouldn't you, madam?  But I have my two meals a day, regularly; and I
have a nice double saucer, which stands beside my mirror, and one end
contains nice milk and the other clean water, and I don't know which I
like the best.  When I am downright thirsty, the water is so nice; but
at times I am hungry and thirsty both, if you can understand me--then I
drink the milk.  At times I am allowed to sit on the table when my
mistress is at breakfast, and I often put out my paw, ever so gently,
and help myself to a morsel from her plate; but I wouldn't do it when
she isn't looking.  The other day I took a fancy to a nice smelt, and I
just went and told my mistress and led her to the kitchen, and I got
what I wanted at once.

I am never put out at night.  I have always the softest and warmest of
beds, and in winter, towards morning, when the fire goes out, I go
upstairs and creep (singing loudly to let her know it is I) into my
mistress's arms.

If I want to go on the tiles any night, I have only to ask.  A fellow
does want to go on the tiles now and then, doesn't he?  Oh, it is a
jolly thing, is a night on the tiles!  One of these days I may give you
my experience of life on the tiles, and then you'll know all about it--
in the meantime, madam, you may try it yourself.  Let it be moonlight,
and be cautious, you know, for, as you have only two feet, you will feel
rather awkward at first.

Did I ever know what it was to be hungry?  Yes, indeed, once I did; and
I'm now going to tell you of the saddest experience in all my long life.
You see it happened like this.  It was autumn; I was then about five
years of age, and a finer-looking Tom, I could see by my mirror, never
trod on four legs.  For some days I had observed an unusual bustle both
upstairs and downstairs.  The servants, especially, seemed all off their
heads, and did nothing but open doors and shut them, and nail up things
in large boxes, and drink beer and eat cold meat whenever they stood on
end.  What was up, I wondered?  Went and asked my mistress.  "Off to the
seaside, pussy Tom," said she; "and you're going too, if you're good."
I determined to be good, and not make faces at the canary.  But one
night I had been out rather late at a cat-concert, and, as usual, came
home with the milk in the morning.  In order to make sure of a good
sleep I went upstairs to an unused attic, as was my wont, and fell
asleep on an old pillow.  How long I slept I shall never know, but it
must have been far on in the day when I awoke, feeling hungry enough to
eat a hunter.  As I trotted downstairs the first thing that alarmed me
was the unusual stillness.  I mewed, and a thousand echoes seemed to
mock me.  The ticking of the old clock on the stairs had never sounded
to me so loud and clear before.  I went, one by one, into every room.
Nothing in any of them but the stillness, apparently, of death and
desolation.  The blinds were all down, and I could even hear the mice
nibbling behind the wainscot.

My heart felt like a great cold lump of lead, as the sad truth flashed
upon my mind--my kind mistress had gone, with all the family, and I was
left, forgotten, deserted!  My first endeavour was to find my way out.
Had I succeeded, even then I would have found my mistress, for cats have
an instinct you little wot of.  But every door and window was fastened,
and there wasn't a hole left which a rat could have crept through.

What nights and days of misery followed!--it makes me shudder to think
of them even now.

For the first few days I did not suffer much from hunger.  There were
crumbs left by the servants, and occasionally a mouse crept out from the
kitchen fender, and I had that.  But by the fifth day the crumbs had all
gone, and with them the mice, too, had disappeared.  They nibbled no
more in the cupboard nor behind the wainscot; and as the clock had run
down there wasn't a sound in the old house by night or by day.  I now
began to suffer both from hunger and thirst.  I spent my time either
mewing piteously at the hall-door, or roaming purposelessly through the
empty house, or watching, watching, faint and wearily, for the mice that
never came.  Perhaps the most bitter part of my sufferings just then was
the thought that would keep obtruding itself on my mind, that for all
the love with which I had loved my mistress, and the faithfulness with
which I had served her, she had gone away, and left me to die all alone
in the deserted house.  Me, too, who would have laid down my life to
please her had she only stayed near me.

How slowly the time dragged on--how long and dreary the days, how
terrible the nights!  Perhaps it was when I was at my very worst, that I
happened to be standing close by my empty saucer, and in front of my
mirror.  At that time I was almost too weak to walk, I tottered on my
feet, and my head swam and moved from side to side when I tried to look
at anything.  Suddenly I started.  Could that wild, attenuated image in
the mirror be my reflection?  How it glared upon me from its glassy
eyes!  And now I knew it could not be mine, but some dreadful thing sent
to torture me.  For as I gazed it uttered a yell--mournful, prolonged,
unearthly--and dashed at me through and out from the mirror.  For some
time we seemed to writhe together in agony on the carpet.  Then up again
we started, the mirror-fiend and I.  "Follow me fast!" it seemed to cry,
and I was impelled to follow.  Wherever it was, there was I.  How it
tore up and down the house, yelling as it went and tearing everything in
its way!  How it rushed half up the chimney, and was dashed back again
by invisible hands!  How it flung itself, half-blind and bleeding, at
the Venetian blinds, and how madly it tried again to escape into the
mirror and shivered the glass!  Then mills began in my head--mills and
machinery--and the roar of running waters.  Then I found myself walking
all alone in a green and beautiful meadow, with a blue sky overhead and
birds and butterflies all about, a cool breeze fanning my brow, and,
better than all, _water_, pure, and clear, and cool, meandering over
brown smooth pebbles, beside which the minnows chased the sunbeams.  And
I drank--and slept.

When I awoke, I found myself lying on the mat in the hall, and the
sunlight shimmering in through the stained glass, and falling in patches
of green and crimson on the floor.  Very cold now, but quiet and
sensible.  There was a large hole in my side, and blood was all about,
so I must have, in my delirium, _torn the flesh, from my own ribs and
devoured it_.  [Not overdrawn.  A case of the kind actually occurred
some years ago in the new town of Edinburgh.--The Author.]

I knew now that death was come, and would set me free at last.

Then the noise of wheels in my ears, and the sound of human voices; then
a blank; and then someone pouring something down my throat; and I opened
my eyes and beheld my dear young mistress.  How she was weeping!  The
sight of her sorrow would have melted your heart.  "Oh, pussy, pussy, do
not die!" she was crying.

Pussy didn't die; but till this day I believe it was only to please my
dear mistress I crept back again to life and love.

I'm very old now, and my thoughts dwell mostly in the past, and I like a
cheery fire and a drop of warm milk better than ever.  But I have all my
faculties and all my comforts.  We have other cats in the house, but I
never feel jealous, for my mistress, look you, loves me better than all
the cats in the kingdom--fact--she told me so.



I'm the dunghill cat--that is what I am.  Nobody owns me, and I owe
allegiance to nobody.  Nobody feeds me; nobody puts a saucer on the
ground and says, "Here, pussy, there's a drop of milk for you, my pet."
Nobody ever gave me a bit of fish in my life, and nobody, so far as I
can remember, ever called me pet names or spoke kindly to me.  Not that
I care, you know, but I merely mention it, that's all.  But don't you
despise me because I am only a poor dunghill cat.  It isn't my fault but
my misfortune, as you shall presently hear.  Circumstances over which I
had no control have rendered me what I am; but I am come of respectable
parents for all that.  To be sure I could not swear to my father, not
knowing exactly who he was, and the mum herself being at times a little
hazy on the point.  But my mother, madam, came from Egypt, and was
descended from a long line of noble ancestors in that beautiful land,
where, they tell me, there is bread enough for all, and where a poor cat
is honoured and respected, as she always ought to be.  And the mum told
me that her original ancestors came over with the Conqueror--Cambyses,
you know--so that is good enough, surely.  Yes, madam, without meaning
the slightest offence, I may just remind you that when your forebears
were dressed in pig-skins, and not much of that; when they wore
flint-headed spears, and stalked about the hills with painted faces,
doing attitudes and saying "Ugh!" when astonished, my progenitors dwelt
in palaces, loved and respected by all, and were considered the equals
of prince, or priest, or peer--what do you think of that?  But I'm not
proud; I'm only the poor dunghill cat, that all the dogs chase, that all
the little boys stone, and Bridget shakes the broom at.  Bridget never
can catch me, though--ha, ha!  Won't I eat her canary, first chance--you
see if I don't.

My earliest recollection is of being carried by the back of my neck, by
something or somebody that I afterwards discovered was my mother.  I was
taken into a beautiful house, and deposited carefully on a rug in the
corner of a cupboard.  Then my mother began licking me all over with her
tongue, when suddenly said a voice close alongside of me, "I declare
that pussy has been and gone and got another kitten--as if one cat of
the kind wasn't enough about the house.  Sarah, go and put it where you
put all the others."

I don't know who the others were, or where they were put; but I know
what Sarah did with me.  She took me up with the hot tongs, mother
screamed and so did I, till I couldn't scream any more because the black
water was all around me.  Then followed a period of agony, and then a
blank, and the next thing I recollect is finding myself lying, wet and
cold, in my mother's arms, and she all wet and cold as well as me.

"My dear chee-ild," said my mamma, "this has been a sad morning; but
you're safe ne-ow, although the building is humble and your pallet is
straw.  Shade of Cambyses!" continued the old lady, rubbing a paw over
her right ear, "why ever did I leave the land of Egypt?"

When I got a little older I began to look around me.  I thought our new
home was one of the jolliest places that could be, despite all the
flowery accounts my mother used to give me of the land of her birth,
with its marble halls and gorgeous tesselated pavements.  It was a
large, roomy loft in an old, old mill, and I used to run about the floor
and chase the great spiders before I was big and brave enough to attack
a wild mouse, or the great, untamable rats that used to frighten me so
when mother was out, by standing on their hind legs and making dreadful
faces at me.  But didn't they scamper off when mother came back!

One day mother brought me a live mouse.  How brave I suddenly felt.  You
should have seen how I sprung on it, and heard how I growled.  Had
anyone, even the immortal Cambyses himself, attempted to rescue that
wild mouse from my clutches, he should have died on the spot.  How
pleased my mother looked!  I think I see her yet, with her old-fashioned
face and her odd, old-world ways.  Very much respected my mother was, I
assure you.  I've seen no less than seven well-dressed feline swells
talking and singing to her all at once, and she didn't know which of
them to speak to first.  Met a violent end, did my mother.
Verdict--"Killed by the carrier's collie."

After I had slain and eaten one mouse, I felt every inch a Tom.  I
declined to lie any more in my mother's arms.  No more milk for me;
blood, and only blood, was my motto, and I meant it, too.  When I was a
well-grown cat of nine months old my mother introduced me to her
mistress's house, and I became, for a time, a house-cat.  I cannot say,
however, that I liked the change.  The lady of the dwelling was, they
told me, exceedingly good and pious, went twice to church on Sunday, and
read prayers morning and evening; but, sad to say, she never had studied
feline economy.  "If cats can't find mice to eat," she used to say,
"they ought to starve."

My mother told me that this was something like asking a person to make
bricks without straw.  My mother was very learned.

Well, one evening--and I had been starving all day, and was dreadfully
hungry and too faint to watch for mice--I happened to stroll into the
pantry, and there I found such a nice, nice dish of cream.  Luscious!
But what a thrashing I got five minutes afterwards--I wasn't hungry for
a week.  Then the hunger came on again worse than ever, and I stole
again.  I couldn't help it, really.  Then I was called a nasty, thieving
brute, and got blamed many times when quite innocent.  There is Briddy
with the broom again.  She hasn't forgiven me for that herring yet, and
I can swear it wouldn't have kept for another day.  Besides, what do I
care if it was for Master Fred's breakfast?  Briddy had no business to
be upstairs trying on missus's Sunday bonnet, and the kitchen-door wide
open.  She thinks I don't see all her capers, and her opening drawers,
and keeking into cupboards, and examining this, that, and t'other, when
her missus is out.  But lying on the top of that wall I can see a great
deal more than I trouble to tell of.  But Briddy blamed me for eating
those two new-laid eggs that the baker brought.  She "just laid them
down outside in the strawberry-basket, m'm, for one minute; and when she
turned again, la, m'm, they was broke and eaten, they was!"  She forgot
to mention how the baker crumpled her cap, though; and she didn't tell
how she was all over flour, and had to brush herself from top to toe
when the bell rang.  But, mind you, it wasn't _me_ that stole the eggs.
I would confess at once if it was; for what could a couple of paltry
new-laid eggs add to the weight of crime I have been guilty of in my
day?  Why, nothing.  But Dr Ricket's jackdaw took the eggs, for I saw
him hop on to the wall, and he gave a look down, first, with one side of
his head, at Briddy and the baker, then, with the other side of his
head, to the eggs; then down he went, and it was all over in a moment--I
mean the eggs were.  Just like Briddy, blaming me for that piece of cold
pork.  Mind you, I don't say I wouldn't have taken it had I got the
chance, but I didn't.  "That beautiful piece of pork gone next, m'm; and
I never can keep that cat out.  And whatever shall I do, m'm?"

But I wonder why Briddy didn't say a word about that visit she had from
the policeman.  Much of a lover he is, anyhow.  I could see him through
the window, and he never opened his mouth but to put something into it.
His courtship was _so_ un-Byronic, for he sat and he sat, and he chewed
and chewed, and glowered and glowered at Briddy, till I wondered she
didn't spit in his face and turn him out.  Ah, Briddy, you needn't shake
the broom, what would you do without me?

But to resume my story.  One night I was shut up in a room by accident,
and no one heard me call, for I did call, and, in the morning, the room
wasn't just as it ought to have been, and for this new offence I was
condemned to die--taken away in a sack, and drowned.

Not dead?  Bless you, no; it wasn't likely I was going to remain at the
bottom of a mill-dam, in an old guano-bag.  I was up again before you
could say mouse, and had swam on shore as cool as you like.  It was a
beautiful day in early autumn, the fields were all ablaze with golden
grain, and the berries beginning to turn red and black in the hedgerows.
I sat down on a sheaf of wheat and basked till dry in the warm
sunshine.  Then a young pheasant ran round the corner and cried, "Peet,
peet, have you seen my mother anywhere?"  I thought I never had tasted
anything half so sweet in all my life.  Then I felt a new Tom from top
to toe.  Go back and be a house-cat?  No, perish the thought.  And I
never did.

I am now fifteen years of age, and as I look back to the days that are
gone I cannot help exclaiming, "What a jolly life I've led."  I've been
a Bohemian, a robber, a brigand, and a thief.  "It is a sin, pussy," you
say; "why don't you reform?" "'Cause I won't," I answer.  Had I been
differently brought up, better treated, better fed, and better
understood, I mightn't be what I am.  I would then have been as honest
and virtuous as one of good Mrs Peek's cats.  She knows how to treat a
cat, and it is only a pity she isn't an Egyptian, she might have married

Well, well, as I said before, I'm now fifteen years of age; I've seen
many ups and downs in the world, but I suppose my day is wearing
through, and I must soon be preparing for the happy hunting-fields on
the other side of Jordan.

Now, madam, you know I'm only a cat, a common dunghill cat, and have
only common dunghill notions, but here are my sentiments.  Religion is a
beautiful thing when brought to bear on everyday life, and not put off
and on with your moire antique.  But never you go away to church and
forget to give pussy her breakfast.

And have your prayer-book in one hand if you like of a morning, but have
a nice bit of fish or a saucer of milk for pussy in the other, and the
beauty of the one hand will be reflected from the other, as the stars
are mirrored in the ocean's wave.


The End.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Domestic Cat" ***

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